Across the Bay

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Appeal by Syrian Intellectuals

Ali al-Abdallah and Yassin al-Haj Saleh have issued a statement condeming Tueni's assassination and the political murder of politicians and journalists.

Here's my translation of the text of the appeal:

The assassination of Lebanese journalist and MP Gebran Tueni on the morning of 12/12/2005 was a link in a chain of monstrous assassinations and murders that have recently targeted a number of Lebanese politicians and journalists: Rafiq Hariri, Samir Qassir, George Hawi, and others.

Opposing a different point of view or political position by blowing up those who hold it with explosives is something that cannot be accepted or tolerated. Politically-motivated murder is an assault on human values: freedom of thought and expression, and the right to differ. These are rights for which humanity has paid a high price in lives and toil before they were acknowledged and enshrined in modern society.

We the undersigned Syrian intellectuals condemn the crime of the assassination of Gebran Tueni and express our unequivocal rejection of the assassination of politicians and journalists, and consider it a crime against all noble human values. We also call on the forces of freedom and democracy in the Arab world and the world beyond to stand in solidarity against this monstrous phenomenon, on the road towards a free, dignified and humane life, which guarantees every human freedom of thought and expression, and the right to differ.

Damascus, 12/12/2005

I've received a list of the signatories that's longer than the one on the site. It includes Ali al-Abdallah, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Burhan Ghalyoun, Muhammad Ali al-Atassi, Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni (MB), Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Bunni, Suheir al-Atassi, Abdelhamid al-Atassi, Bahiyya Mardini, Razan Zeytouneh, and various others.

Many of these signatories were given a free and open forum by Gebran and Samir in An-Nahar. As Michael Young wrote yesterday about the Assad-Makhlouf-Shawkat Baathist thugocracy:

For them, the real danger has always been independent thought - against which they can only muster media that threaten, crowds that threaten, and security services that best them both by implementing the threats. Ideas are absent from their endeavors; human development is absent; amelioration is absent; self-determination, freedom, imagination are all absent, crushed by a regime that can only warn that if it goes down, the region will go down with it.

For a collection of reactions in Arabic, check out Elaph and ME Transparent.

Addendum: By the way, Al-Mustaqbal has published reactions by various Lebanese personalities to Tueni's murder (see also here). I found the quote by Shiite cleric Hani Fahs (who's at odds with Hizbullah) rather interesting: "Lebanon has become in dire need of international protection, and this international protection needs to be an element of stability in Lebanon, meaning, there needs to be an understanding about it. This means that everyone should agree about Lebanon's priorities, because instability will not leave a safe place for anyone. Once again, as always, yes for historic settlements based on mutual compromises in the interest of Lebanon."

This comes after the comment made by Ibrahim Muhammad Shamseddine, the son of the former president of the Higher Shiite Council, the late Sheikh Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine, about the international tribunal (I linked to it in my Quick Links, but L'Orient-Le Jour's links are temporary). He too went against HA, saying that the argument held by HA that we should wait until the suspects are named before calling for an international tribunal does not hold water. Here's the report from L'Orient-Le Jour once more:

«L’argument selon lequel la décision de former un tribunal international doit être prise a posteriori, une fois les suspects désignés, et non a priori ne tient pas.» C’est ce qu’a affirmé samedi Ibrahim Mohammed Chamseddine, le fils de l’ancien président du Conseil supérieur chiite, cheikh Mohammed Mehdi Chamseddine. «C’est, dit-il, comme si l’on disait que les tribunaux ne sauraient exister qu’une fois les prisons peuplées d’assassins et de criminels.» À l’issue d’une rencontre avec l’ancien chef de l’État, Amine Gemayel, au siège du parti Kataëb, M. Chamseddine a indiqué: «Au regard des développements actuels, il est important de consolider le dialogue interne entre toutes les parties en présence, en vue de l’entente entre les Libanais. À condition, dit-il, que ce dialogue soit axé sur des questions nationales à caractère général et non personnel, en fonction des craintes exprimées par certaines parties.»

This once again goes to show that HA does not equal "the Shi'a." And if you look closely at Fahs and Shamseddine (see his father's book), the crux is that their political worldview is built on consensus, compromise and the power-sharing formula. It's becoming clearer every day (for some, it's always been clear) that these concepts are simply not acceptable to HA, which sees itself as a vanguard, thus placing it at odds with the rest of the country, which is what we are seeing today.