Lokman Mohsen Slim was a Lebanese publisher and independent social and political activist, who was well-known for being a critic of Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Slim had gone missing during a trip back to Beirut on Thursday. He was then found dead a few hours later in the country’s southern region which is heavily controlled by Hezbollah, with four bullets in his head and one in his back.
The anti-Hezbollah intellectual believed that he was subject to attacks, threats and intimidation by Hezbollah in December 2019. Slim issued a statement in which he declared that not only was he himself subject to these threats, but so was his wife.
“In the event that any verbal or physical attack is carried out on me, my wife, my home or family, I, through this statement, make the de facto forces – represented by Hassan Nasrallah and Nabih Berri – responsible for what happened or what will happen,” the statement read, which he posted on Facebook.
Slim published the statement after a group had entered the perimeter of his home to spray death threats onto its walls, to which he then said that he was placing his family and home under the protection and surveillance of the army, reported UK-based media The New Arab. He had been accused of supporting the normalization of relations between Israel and Lebanon.
In Haret Hreik, a village near Beirut where he was born in 1962, Slim founded independent Lebanese publishing house Dar al-Jadeed in 1990 which published Arabic literature and articles that stirred controversy throughout the country, according to independent Lebanese news platform L’Orient-Le Jour.
He then co-founded Umam Documentation and Research center in 2004 through which he dedicated a large portion of resources to recording, compiling, preserving, and promoting Lebanese history. He published several historical documents and works for art.
Prior to this, he moved to France in 1982, where he lived for six years, to pursue a degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne University.
Some books from his publishing house were censored and banned by the Lebanese General Security, one of which included the first Arabic translations of former Iranian reformist president Muhammad Khatami’s writings. This specific piece generated a great deal of controversy within Lebanon’s Shia community.
Slim’s most recent project, Hayya Bina (Let’s Go), was an initiative which was launched back in 2005 during the parliamentary elections in Lebanon. This was published in a bid to promote citizen involvement throughout the political process and to criticize the sectarian system of the country. Lebanon’s government has long been a religious-based one, further emphasizing the polarization and division of the people for decades.
The activist’s Hayya Bina project gave rise to several public advocacy projects within the country’s Shia areas. For instance, state media the Daily Star reported that in Shmustar, a Shia-majority area of Lebanon, project staff publicly advocated to clean up the area during the garbage crisis to protect the village from diseases and in Baalbek, the project’s field staff launched an initiative to boost the economic prosperity of local farmers. The years that followed saw projects such as ‘Teach Women English’ which saw the recruitment of teachers in rural areas to help boost the economically stagnant and depressed areas of the south through education.
Slim established Umam Productions in 2001, a film company which eventually produced a variety of films such as Massaker, which he co-directed himself, winning an international film award in Berlin in 2005. The film had elements of psychology and politics, as it studied the crimes of six perpetrators and their roles in Lebanon’s 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres, murdering between 1,000 and 3,000 Palestinian civilians in the Lebanese-Palestinian camps, according to film and TV database IMDb.
Umam Documentation and Research has long been organizing and creating an open archive of materials pertaining to the country’s history, on both social and political levels. According to peacebuilding resource for conflict zones Peace Insight, the non-profit organization has also facilitated and organized art exhibitions, film screenings and discussions to address peoples’ painful memories and thoughts on the Lebanese Civil War which took place between 1975 and 1990.
One of the company’s ongoing exhibits since 2008, entitled ‘Missing’, constitutes of a collage of photos which depicts some of the people who had gone missing during the civil war.