Beirut- Lebanese politician, intellectual and writer Samir Franjieh died on Tuesday after spending a lifetime of activism and fighting for his country’s independence.
The 71-year-old was one of the key figures to popular resistance during the Syrian occupation of Lebanon in 1976. Franjieh never succumbed to the chase or coercion, even when seeing his friends fall before his eyes, whether to bomb-laden cars or assassinations.
In Beirut’s Hotel Dieu hospital, the inspiration for many of Lebanon’s freedom activists passed away after a long struggle with a chronic disease.
Franjieh was born in Zgharta in 1945. He hails from an old political family. He is the son of Hamid Kabalan Franjieh, the elder brother of Suleiman Franjieh, who was one of Lebanon’s former presidents.
Involved in politics at an early age, Franjieh drew from his father’s legacy, but the brutal Syrian occupation that reigned over Lebanon would not allow for Franjieh and his likes parliament access any time before 2005.
Following the assassination of Lebanese ex-premier Rafik Hariri in 2005, and the alleged involvement of Syria in his death, a public uprising called the Cedar Revolution had swept the country. With the adoption of UN Resolution 1559, Syria was forced to announce its full withdrawal from Lebanon on April 30, 2005.
Franjieh spearheaded the anti-Syrian occupation movement through revolutionary articles, taking on platforms and forums to back Lebanon’s independence. The fight he undertook was nothing close to easy, particularly with Syrian intelligence being known to be the region’s most brutal services—Syrian hires had hunted down and killed Franjieh’s comrades. But fear was not in Franjieh’s dictionary.
Among his memorable friends in cause who were taken away unwarrantedly was journalist Samir Kassir, George Hawi, Gebran Tueni, Walid Eido, Pierre Gemayel, Antoine Ghanem, and Minister Mohammed Chatah.
He was aware that “caution does not stop fate”, so he went on to defend Lebanon’s path to sovereignty, freedom and independence. He was part of the March 14 alliance and a member of its general secretariat. Author to the “Beirut manifesto” which was published in 2004 and was signed by Lebanese intellectuals and eminent public figures, Franjieh and the alliance challenged Syrian hegemony in Lebanon.
Franjieh was a vigorous columnist to many Lebanese newspapers, especially in the daily An-Nahar which closely recorded Lebanon’s history and fought for the human rights of its minorities.