Samir Kassir (1960 - 2005)

Samir Kassir (1960 - 2005)

 

Samir Kassir (5 May 1960 – Beirut, 2 June 2005) was a Lebanese teacher, journalist and activist. From a leftwing point of view, he passionately supported the end of the Syrian guardianship over Lebanon, the democratization of Syria and the Palestinian cause. Samir Kassir was born on 5 May 1960 into a family of Greek Orthodox faith formed by a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother. He grew up in Beirut, where he attended the Lycée Français. At age 17 he started to write anonymously for al-Nidā', the newspaper of the Lebanese Communist Party, and to contribute to the French-language Lebanese daily L'Orient-Le Jour.
In 1981, Kassir started working with Le Monde Diplomatique, for which he would go on publishing his articles until 2000. In 1984 he attained his DEA (degree) in Philosophy and Political Philosophy from Université Paris I. In 1990 he completed his research doctorate in Modern History at Université Paris IV, with a thesis on the Lebanese civil war. At that time Kassir contributed to weekly paper al-Yawm al-Sābi', to the Revue des Études Palestiniennes and to Panarab daily al- Hayat̄ .
After going back to Lebanon, in 1995 Samir Kassir founded magazine L'Orient-L'Express, which represented a major overturn as it was the first time that a French-language newspaper spoke up for Arab identity and culture rather than Lebanese nationalism. After the closure of the magazine in 1998, Samir Kassir started teaching at the Institut des sciences politiques of Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut. In the same year, Samir Kassir started contributing with a series of editorials to daily paper al-Nahār. His weekly columns, in which he frankly expressed his opposition to the filo-Syrian regime and demanded the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon, became very popular and Kassir started being invited as a political pundit in numerous tv shows.
Despite his support to Lebanese sovereignty, Kassir kept a very strong interest in Syrian affairs, maintaining close ties with the intellectuals involved in the so-called “Damascus Spring” of 2001. Kassir also always defended the rights of the Palestinian people.
In 2004, together with other intellectuals and exponents of the Lebanese civil society, SamirKassirfoundedthemovementDemocraticLeft(al-Yasārad-Dim̄uqrāṭi)̄,opposing
the neo-capitalist economic model as much as the clashing religious and ideological extremist movements and views. Samir Kassir, together with the Democratic Left and daily al-Nahar̄ , was one of the prominent figures in the political mobilization that led to the big anti-Syrian mass demonstrations that followed the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq̄ al-Hạ rir̄ i.̄ Samir Kassir himself was assassinated by a car-bombing explosion in Beirut on 2 June 2005. The investigation following his murder is still ongoing and no master mind nor killer of his has been identified, yet. Given that Samir Kassir had received threats from agents of the Lebanese secret services and the Lebanese and Syrian security forces, many people in Lebanon believe that some elements of these apparatuses may have been responsible for his murder. The Syrian government has denied any form of involvement.

Samir Kassir (5 May 1960 – Beirut, 2 June 2005) was a Lebanese teacher, journalist and activist. From a leftwing point of view, he passionately supported the end of the Syrian guardianship over Lebanon, the democratization of Syria and the Palestinian cause. Samir Kassir was born on 5 May 1960 into a family of Greek Orthodox faith formed by a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother. He grew up in Beirut, where he attended the Lycée Français.

At age 17 he started to write anonymously for al-Nidā', the newspaper of the Lebanese Communist Party, and to contribute to the French-language Lebanese daily L'Orient-Le Jour.In 1981, Kassir started working with Le Monde Diplomatique, for which he would go on publishing his articles until 2000. In 1984 he attained his DEA (degree) in Philosophy and Political Philosophy from Université Paris I. In 1990 he completed his research doctorate in Modern History at Université Paris IV, with a thesis on the Lebanese civil war. At that time Kassir contributed to weekly paper al-Yawm al-Sābi', to the Revue des Études Palestiniennes and to Panarab daily al- Hayat̄ .After going back to Lebanon, in 1995 Samir Kassir founded magazine L'Orient-L'Express, which represented a major overturn as it was the first time that a French-language newspaper spoke up for Arab identity and culture rather than Lebanese nationalism.

After the closure of the magazine in 1998, Samir Kassir started teaching at the Institut des sciences politiques of Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut. In the same year, Samir Kassir started contributing with a series of editorials to daily paper al-Nahār. His weekly columns, in which he frankly expressed his opposition to the filo-Syrian regime and demanded the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon, became very popular and Kassir started being invited as a political pundit in numerous tv shows.Despite his support to Lebanese sovereignty, Kassir kept a very strong interest in Syrian affairs, maintaining close ties with the intellectuals involved in the so-called “Damascus Spring” of 2001. Kassir also always defended the rights of the Palestinian people.In 2004, together with other intellectuals and exponents of the Lebanese civil society, SamirKassirfoundedthemovementDemocraticLeft(al-Yasārad-Dim̄uqrāṭi)̄,opposingthe neo-capitalist economic model as much as the clashing religious and ideological extremist movements and views. Samir Kassir, together with the Democratic Left and daily al-Nahar̄ , was one of the prominent figures in the political mobilization that led to the big anti-Syrian mass demonstrations that followed the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq̄ al-Hạ rir̄ i.̄ Samir Kassir himself was assassinated by a car-bombing explosion in Beirut on 2 June 2005.

The investigation following his murder is still ongoing and no master mind nor killer of his has been identified, yet. Given that Samir Kassir had received threats from agents of the Lebanese secret services and the Lebanese and Syrian security forces, many people in Lebanon believe that some elements of these apparatuses may have been responsible for his murder. The Syrian government has denied any form of involvement.

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