Throwing rose petals and waving red, white and green Lebanese flags, hundreds of mourners lined the streets of central Beirut Saturday for the funeral procession of an anti-Syrian journalist, amid calls for an international investigation into his death.
Samir Kassir, a 45-year-old newspaper columnist, was killed Thursday by a bomb that exploded under his car in the Christian Beirut neighborhood of Ashrafieh. Lebanon’s opposition blamed Syria for the assassination — a charge Syria strongly denied — and accused Damascus of continuing to interfere in Lebanese politics.
More than 2,000 people watched as Kassir’s coffin was carried from the offices of his newspaper, An-Nahar, in Beirut’s downtown Martyrs’ Square, by pallbearers including the newspaper’s director-general, Gibran Tueini. Mourners threw rose petals on the coffin as it made its way to a nearby Greek Orthodox church.
Among mourners was Kassir’s wife, Giselle Khoury, a journalist with Al-Arabiya television, who had demanded an international investigation into her husband’s death. Kassir held French and Lebanese citizenship. There is widespread skepticism in Lebanon about the state’s ability to investigate political crimes.
Syria pulled all its troops out of Lebanon in April after three decades, and Lebanon is in the midst of a four-round parliamentary election that the anti-Syrian opposition hopes will end Damascus’ control of the legislature.
On Friday, some 200 journalists and politicians — many holding black pens to symbolize freedom of expression — stood for an hour in Martyrs’ Square in silent tribute to Kassir, as bells tolled in nearby churches.