Lokman Slim’s sister had voiced concern about him in a tweet last night, reporting that she had lost contact with him since he set off on his return journey to Beirut after visiting friends in the southern town of Niha.
Slim was the founder of Shia Watch, a website where he posted political analyses. He was known for his expertise on the Shia branch wing of Islam and his criticism of Hezbollah, the Shia political party that has a paramilitary wing.
In one of his latest interviews for the Al-Hadath TV channel, he talked about the political corruption behind the Beirut port explosion in August 2020. He held Hezbollah responsible for the decline in Lebanon that underlay the tragedy.
“We call for an immediate investigation into the circumstances of Lokman Slim’s despicable murder in order to identify those responsible,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “If this murder goes unpunished, it will open the way to a climate of fear for all Lebanese journalists and the prospect of a grim future for critical media in Lebanon.”
Slim is the second journalist to be murdered in Lebanon in a matter of weeks. Joseph Bejjani, a photographer working for the Lebanese army, was gunned down after dropping off his daughters at their school on 21 December. His phone was taken. Several media outlets reported that he was one of the first photographers at the scene after the explosion at the port in August, fuelling speculation about the motive for his murder.
Lebanon is ranked 102nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.