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The Knowledge that Killed Lokman Slim

The Knowledge that Killed Lokman Slim

Monday, 8 February, 2021 - 10:00

In its extremely brief segment on the latest crime right before the “weather forecast”, al-Manar described Lokman Slim as a “citizen” whose corpse had been found.

Hezbollah’s television station did not use this term to emphasize citizens’ rights and duties. Of course, it did not refer to the notion of a “citizen” whose torture had been forbidden by the ancient civilizations of Rome and Greece. This term was adopted to conceal the many epithets that this man, whom five bullets turned into a “corpse”, deserves.

Lokman Slim was an intellectual, writer, a publisher, a linguist, a director, an archiver, a translator and an activist ... there was no shortage of words to describe him. Stripping him of them all is akin to a second murder. The use of the term “citizen” by those for whom homeland only means battleground, a third murder.

Why was Lokman murdered many times?

I venture to say: because, in all of those many faces of his, he was obsessed with knowing and informing. He practiced it with a bravery that is rarely seen. Very rarely.

Lebanon’s major industry today is that of lies and concealment. Who knows, for example, why the Port of Beirut exploded and what is the story behind the ammonium nitrate? Who knows who the embezzlers of public money are? Who knows why those murdered since 2005 were murdered?

It is forbidden for what we know - and it is plenty - to become truth. It is to remain a point of view that could lead those who hold it to their deaths.

More than this: our way of life, since the 1975 war, is one of lies and concealment.

Who kidnaped whom? Who killed whom? Who robbed whom? Was pre-war Lebanon as bad as it had been described? Did the Israelis and Westerners really start plotting their conspiracies against Lebanon as soon they finished washing their faces in the morning? Were we really united and in agreement over the slogans described as sacrosanct? Did we really humiliate Israel before, during and after 2006? Is it really possible to reconcile statehood and resistance, any statehood with any resistance? Were Assad’s regime and his army actually guarantors of Lebanese national unity? Can we indeed solve our economic problems by heading to Iran and further east?

Adopting a rhetoric of concealment and pretention is the only refuge for those who want to avert being accused of being traitors or normalizers; that is, if the assassination is limited to its character form. Lokman was insulted and threatened; his house was surrounded, vulgar political accusations were hurled at him, and he was warned that the “silencer” is “glorious.” Some in the press and the media played a role in this.

Although the term “Hezbollah critic” understates whom Lokman had been, Hezbollah’s transformation into the faction that shapes almost everything turned its critics into critics of everything, whether they deal with material reality or the narrative about it.

Among the things Lokman knew and informed about is that the country has a history and that crime also has a history. With the help of his ingenious wife Monika Borgmann, his sister, the literati, Rasha al-Ameer, and several young men and women who shared his concerns, Lokman delved into revealing everything kept under wraps, and all our facts, large and small, are kept under wraps.

He revived the issue of war-time kidnapping victims with a stunning and expansive art exhibition. Through “Umam for Documentation & Research,” he gathered all kinds of documentation from the war he could put his hands on, newspapers, statements and the smallest of snippets, because an archive presents a compelling argument against lies. Thus, he archived the war, with all its filth glorified by those engaged in glorifying of death. He took part in three documentaries on the victims of the Sabra and Shatila camps and the Lebanese prisoners in the “fraternal” Tadmur Prison in Syria. He sponsored countless seminars and gatherings that discussed the most sacrosanct and taboo of topics. Through “Dar al-Jadid,” he opened the door to the elucidation of issues and names that had been unheard of.

With overflowing vigor and tenacity that are only matched by his courage, Lokman was determined to prevent a single voice and narrative from hegemonizing. His father’s home in the southern suburbs of Beirut was kept as it had been, an open and welcoming space reminiscent of the suburb’s beautiful and pluralistic past.

As for the experience of his late father, Mohsen Slim, the deputy, illustrious lawyer and orator, it must have given him his immunity against the widespread lies about the southern suburbs and Lebanon’s past.

In his duels with false consciousness, Lokman’s explication of the issue at hand would always hit the nail on the head, his discerption matching whatever is being described, his words reflecting reality. He was not among those who would watch Israeli drones hovering over their heads and conclude that the “the era of defeats has passed.” With the formation of a sociologist and the proclivities of an investigative journalist, Lokman would find an immense amount of support for his opinions in the conditions of the regions, families, and branches of families, as well as what is eaten and drunk in the homes hidden from view.

All of these are valid reasons for him to be killed by… Israel!

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