2 June 2005
Leading newspaper columnist Samir Kassir killed in Beirut car bombing
(RSF/IFEX) - RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard, who is currently in Lebanon, has voiced dismay at the murder of columnist Samir Kassir, of "An-Nahar" newspaper, who was killed when his car blew up in Beirut on the morning of 2 June 2005.
"We are in a complete state of shock after Samir Kassir's cowardly murder," Ménard said. "We have lost a friend, and press freedom has lost a passionate defender. We share his family's grief and anger, and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the entire staff of 'An-Nahar'."
"The French authorities and the UN commission investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri should pay particular attention to this new act of terrorism. Those responsible for the murder, which targeted a great journalist, must be identified, arrested and punished. We promise to remain mobilised until justice has been done," Ménard added.
Kassir was killed when his white Alfa Romeo car exploded at 10:45 a.m. (local time) in the Christian neighbourhood of Achrafieh. A woman whose identity was not immediately known was injured by the blast.
Lebanese army soldiers rushed to the scene of the bombing. The prime minister and the French ambassador also went to the scene.
A writer and historian with both French and Lebanese citizenship, the 45-year-old Kassir had been writing columns for the past 10 years for "An-Nahar" ("The Day" in Arabic), a moderate daily with a circulation of 55,000.
Well-known for his anti-Syrian positions and his criticism of the "Lebanese police state," he had been harassed and threatened for years. He was also an active participant in the anti-Syrian protests in spring 2005.