Slim, who was a prominent Lebanese publisher who criticised the armed Hezbollah movement was shot dead in a car in southern Lebanon, the first such killing of a high-profile activist in years.
Lebanese intellectual Lokman Slim, who was an outspoken critic of the Shia movement Hezbollah and an advocate for preserving the memory of his country's civil war has been found shot dead at age 58.
The son of a prominent lawyer and an Egyptian mother, Slim was an activist, writer, publisher and filmmaker, and a leading secular voice in the Shiite Muslim community.
He advocated curbing the influence of Hezbollah, the pro-Iran and anti-Israel political party and armed group that has millions of followers in Lebanon but is labelled a terrorist group by the US, EU, and other governments.
Slim also spent years working relentlessly to preserve Lebanon's collective memory of its 1975-1990 civil war and carried out acclaimed research on topics such as mass graves and transitional justice.
He created an organisation called Umam Documentation and Research with the aim of building an unparallelled archive of the civil war, arguing that Lebanon could not move forward until it has dealt with its past.
Meanwhile, the Hezbollah group condemned the killing of Slim.
"We ask the judicial and security authorities concerned to work quickly to expose the culprits and punish them," the group said in a statement.
A book lover
He was known for his love of books and mastery of the Arabic language.
His home in the southern Beirut suburbs, known as Villa Slim, was a hub of cultural activity where several languages could always be heard and where film screenings and exhibitions were often organised.
Despite having been singled out by Hezbollah supporters as an enemy and frequently accused of being on the US embassy's payroll, he used to tell his friends he was not worried about his safety.
He would argue that should he be killed, everybody would know who was behind it.
"He used to tell me he was not afraid of death," said his sister Rasha al-Ameer.
"They have killed an exceptional human being."
This is how I will remember @LokmanSlim: a fine and fearless critical intellectual and activist for peace and reconciliation. It is a tragedy that such a man can be killed by brute and coward henchmen. RIP Luqman pic.twitter.com/8FENFeoG2r— Andreas Kindl (@GermanEmbBeirut) February 4, 2021
House always open
While Slim's murder put the spotlight on his political activism, his greatest legacy will likely be his relentless commitment to fostering a collective Lebanese memory and spirit of accountability.
"Lokman Slim was at the forefront of the struggle against impunity in post-war Lebanon," said Amnesty International's regional director Lynn Maalouf.
« Lokman Slim is the victim of this decades-old pattern of impunity, which has ensured that past and present targeted killings of activists, journalists and intellectuals remain unpunished, and for which the Lebanese state is ultimately responsible » Our statement #لقمان_سليم https://t.co/MzMe5NrrMD— lynn maalouf (@lynn_maalouf) February 4, 2021
In 2008, he founded the Haya Bina association with the goal to "defend principles of citizenship, tolerance, pluralism, democracy and human rights".
During cross-sectarian pro-democracy protests in late 2019, thug s loyal to Hezbollah and the other main Shiite party Amal were involved in several violent incidents.
They beat up protesters and in one instance in December that year plastered messages on the walls of Slim's home calling him a traitor and warning that his "time will come".
But he lived with no personal security and the gates to his house were famously always open.
It's a rlly sad day... Lokman Slim was a distant relative and close family friend. I didn't know him much but his story speaks for itself. Lokman was vehemently anti-Hezb despite living in Dahiyeh, where he set up The Hangar. I just found a few docs at home produced by UMAM. RIP. pic.twitter.com/7Mck3JsEMc— Nadim El Kak | نديم القاق (@NadimElkak) February 4, 2021
Slim's documentary films
After studying philosophy in Paris, Slim founded the Dar al-Jadeed publishing house, which promoted new and controversial writers and for the first time translated works by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami into Arabic.
Slim was an essayist himself and also made several documentary films with his German-Lebanese wife Monika Borgmann.
Their film "Massaker" -- which studied six perpetrators of the 1982 Christian militia massacres of 1,000 people at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian camps in Beirut -- was awarded the Fipresci Prize at the 2005 Berlinale.
It was during the production of "Massaker" that he and Borgmann discovered that Lebanon had neither a central archive nor a national library, leading them to found Umam in 2005.
In their 2016 film "Tadmur", Lebanese men recounted their ordeal as detainees in Syria's infamously brutal Palmyra prison.
He had recently been working on a project to document Syria's almost 10-year-old civil war.