Gebran Tueni. Many Lebanese know the name but how many still remember what he stood for? 11 years after his assassination on the 12th of December 2005, his ideas and his words are as relevant today as they were back then.
Gebran Tueni always fought for a free, independent and sovereign Lebanon. In 1989, he joined general Michel Aoun, then Prime minister of a transitional government, in his "liberation war" and remained at his side until October 13, 1990.
During the 15-year-long Syrian occupation, he stayed true to his ideal and kept hammering the same principles: freedom, sovereignty, independence. While most Lebanese politicians and journalists were kissing the Syrian boot, he wrote an open letter to Bashar el-Assad: "You must realize that many Lebanese are not at ease either with Syrian policy in Lebanon or with the presence of Syrian troops in our country."
In 2005, he became along with Samir Kassir – also killed in a car bomb that same year – the soul of the popular uprising that led to the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. His famous March 14 oath is now part of the country’s modern history: "We swear to God Almighty, Muslims and Christians, to be forever united to defend Lebanon". This oath was taken by close to a million Lebanese present in Martyrs Square in downtown Beirut.
For those who don’t know him, those who forgot and those who still remember the icon rather than the man and the principles he stood and died for, this is who Gebran Tueni was, in his own words. In the following video, he talks about Hezbollah, about the role of democracy, especially towards minorities, and about freedom of the press.
Gebran Tueni believed that Lebanese citizens have a major role to play in the country's political future. He even strived to create a shadow government made of young Lebanese from the civil society.
During his funeral, his father Ghassan Tueni said: "I call on this occasion not for revenge or hatred but to bury with Gebran all our hatreds and to call on all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, to unite in the service of Lebanon."
A call we all need to remember.