Within the memorial service, the US ambassador describes the homicide of the Lebanese activist Slim as unforgivable for Reuters

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© Reuters. Relatives and friends of Lokman Slim, a Shiite publisher and activist, stand in Beirut during a gathering to pay tribute to him in his car a week after his death

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By Maha El Dahan and Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The US ambassador to Lebanon paid a rare visit to a neighborhood in Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, on Thursday to attend the memorial service for political researcher and activist Lokman Slim.

He was shot and found in his car last Thursday in southern Lebanon – the first murder of a high-profile activist in years.

“It was a barbaric act, unforgivable and unacceptable,” Dorothy Shea said in a speech at the service held at the Slim family home in Beirut’s Dahiya neighborhood.

Slim ran a research center, made documentaries with his wife, and directed efforts to build an archive on Lebanon’s sectarian civil war from 1975 to 1990.

He spoke out against the intimidation tactics of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Hezbollah group and its attempts to monopolize Lebanese politics.

Hezbollah has condemned the murder, but Slim’s sister has suggested that he was murdered because of these views.

On Thursday, his mother, Salma Merchak, wept quietly when she heard Muslim and Christian prayers for her son in the service, which was also attended by ambassadors of Germany, Canada, Great Britain and Switzerland.

In a speech that followed, she asked the young people in Lebanon to provide weapons and take up the dialogue in his memory.

“I ask you, the boys, if you really want a nation to go on with the principles he fought for and believed in,” Merchak said.

“Use only your logic and common sense. Guns do not benefit the country. They did not help me – I lost my son.”

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