Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

Versione italiana | Search in site:

Samir Kassir 1960 - 2005

journalist and Political Activist

Samir Kassir

Samir Kassir

Samir Kassir was a Lebanese teacher, journalist and activist. 
From the political positions of the left, Samir Kassir argued passionately for Lebanon's independence, the creation of a secular, democratic and multi-ethnic society and fought vigorously in defense of freedom of the press.


Born May 5, 1960 to a Palestinian father and Syrian mother, in an Orthodox Greek family, Samir Kassir grew up in Beirut, where he attended the Lycée Français de Beyrouth and began at the age of seventeen to write anonymously about al-Nida ', the newspaper of the Communist Party of Lebanon, and to contribute to French-language Lebanese daily L'Orient-Le Jour.


In 1981, Kassir began to collaborate with Le Monde Diplomatique, which continued to publish until 2000. 
In 1984 he received the DEA (Masters) in Philosophy and Political Philosophy at the University of Paris I. In 1990 he completed his PhD in Modern and Contemporary History at the Université Paris IV, with a thesis on the Lebanese civil war. During this period, Kassir contributed to the weekly al-Yawm al-Sabi ', the Revue des Etudes Palestiniennes and the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.


Back in Lebanon, Samir Kassir founded  the magazine L'Orient-L'Express in 1995, which represented a major turning point because, for the first time, a Francophone newspaper had an Arabic spokesperson and Arab culture rather than of Lebanese nationalism. 
After the closure of the magazine in 1998, Samir Kassir began teaching at the Institut des 
Sciences Politiques, Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut. In the same year, Samir Kassir began to contribute a series of editorials for the newspaper al-Nahar. His weekly columns, in which he expressed in a forthright manner his opposition to the pro-Syrian regime and demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, Kassir became very popular and began to be invited as a political commentator on numerous television programs.


Despite his support for Lebanese sovereignty, Kassir maintained a strong interest for Syria, maintaining close relations with the intellectuals involved in the so-called "Damascus Spring" of 2001. Kassir also did not fail to continue to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.


In 2004, along with other intellectuals and representatives of civil society of Lebanon, Samir Kassir founded the Democratic Left Movement (al-Yasar Ad-Dīmuqrāṭī), in opposition to both the neo-capitalist economic model and religious and ideological radicalism. 
Samir Kassir, along with the Democratic Left and the newspaper al-Nahar, was one of the most important figures in the political mobilization that led to the great mass anti-Syrian demonstrations followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.


Samir Kassir was in turn assassinated by a car bomb in Beirut on 2 June 2005. The investigations are still in progress and no principal or possible author of the murder has been identified so far. As Samir Kassir had previously received threats from secret service agents and the Lebanese and Syrian security apparatus, many in Lebanon think that some elements of these devices may be responsible for the assassination. The Syrian government has denied any form of involvement.


A tree and a stone in the Garden of the Righteous in Milan were dedicated to Kassir on March 6th 2013.

Civil Courage

in every part of the world

The committee the Forest of the Righteous wants to make known those that fight and are fighting to defend the persecuted, the innocent victims of crimes against humanity, and to protect human dignity and human rights wherever they are infringed upon, to declare the will to live in peace and civil coexistence, to seek truth and freedom of expression.