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Last Updated: Monday, 12 December 2005, 10:28 GMT
Obituary: Gibran Tueni
Gibran Tueni
Gibran Tueni inherited al-Nahar from his father Ghassan
Gibran Tueni was one of Lebanon's leading voices against Syrian domination of the country, using his position as publisher of al-Nahar newspaper to promote the anti-Syrian cause.

He was one of the first figures in the media to put their heads over the parapet in 2000 - when Israel was pulling its troops out of southern Lebanon after 21-year occupation.

His message came in an "open letter" to the late President Hafez al-Assad's son and future successor, Bashar.

"You must realise that many Lebanese are uncomfortable with Syrian policies in Lebanon and with the presence of Syrian troops in the country," he wrote.

"Many Lebanese consider Syria's behaviour in Lebanon to be completely at odds with the principles of sovereignty, dignity, and independence."

At the time, with a large force of Syrian troops and intelligence agents stationed around Lebanon, even mentioning "discomfort" about Syria was considered a remarkably direct critique.

The letter sparked much debate in Lebanon, long before UN Security Council resolution 1559 and the February assassination of Rafik Hariri put the issue near the top of the international agenda.

String of bombings

In the wake of the "Cedar Revolution", Mr Tueni crossed the line from political writing to politics, winning a Greek Orthodox seat in parliament.

Although he stopped writing his signature anti-Syrian editorials in al-Nahar during the campaign, the paper kept up a strong opposition editorial line throughout.

In June, one of his star columnists, Samir Qasir, was killed by a bomb in his car - one of a series of assassinations that have shaken Lebanon in the last year.

Mr Tueni's maternal uncle, Minister Marwan Hamadeh (who is Druze while Tueni's mother converted to Christianity) survived an attempt on his life in 2004, in what was considered the first of more than a dozen related bomb attacks.

Many Lebanese have blamed Syria or its supporters for the bombings, although Damascus has strongly denied involvement.

So great did the threat of the bombings later become that Mr Tueni fled to France in August along with a number of other prominent anti-Syrian figures.

Reports say the 48-year-old, who was married with four daughters, including twins just a few months old, had only just returned before the attack that killed him.

In August he told French radio that a hit list of Lebanese political figures had been unearthed by the UN-appointed investigation into the Hariri assassination.

"My name is on top of this list," he said at the time.


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