Hezbollah critic Lokman Slim was reported missing by his family on Thursday after he visited a friend’s house in a village in Lebanon’s southern region, which is heavily controlled by the Iran-backed extremist group.
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“My brother Lokman Slim left Niha al-Janoub six hours ago heading back to Beirut and he has not yet returned. He is not answering his phone. There is no trace of him in hospitals,” his sister Rasha al-Ameer wrote on Twitter at 3:44 a.m. Beirut time.
She also called on anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact her.
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American University in Beirut (AUB) lecturer Makram Rabah confirmed to Al Arabiya English that Slim’s family was able to track his phone to a location where he was last seen in the south, no sign of him or his vehicle were found, however.
“Lokman is an outspoken voice against Hezbollah and he went missing deep in the region and their areas of control and this is the technique they’ve used before,” Rabah told Al Arabiya English. “We’re just trying to find out if he’s safe or if something bad happened to him.”
My friend and comrade Lokman Slim is missing , he was in the south of Lebanon visiting friends. We hold the parties who control the area and the Lebanese state responsible for his safety and his swift return. #lokman_slim pic.twitter.com/8BqnDuTWcM— makram rabah (@makramrabah) February 4, 2021
Lebanese activists and journalists joined the search, using an Arabic hashtag that translates to #Where_is_Lokman_Slim on social media, while others turned his name into an Arabic hashtag trend.
Rabah also tweeted saying: “We hold the parties who control the area and the Lebanese state responsible for his safety and his swift return.”
In 2019, Slim, director of Hayya Bina and UMAM, a Lebanese organization that focuses on Shia politics and social dynamics, along with Rabah were surrounded by Hezbollah supporters in Martyrs’ Square tent after taking part in a public debate.
The debate on “Neutrality as a strategic concept for the return of prosperity” was being held at a tent event called The Hub in Martyrs’ Square. Organizers said the focus of the forum was regional conflict.
Following the debate, Slim began receiving at his home death threats written on notes that read “his turn was next.”
According to Rabah, various security agencies in Lebanon have been contacted but no further details on Slim’s disappearance have been found.