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French Version

Hundreds attend Mass honoring Tueni

Statue at site of killing pays tribute to slain journalist

Hundreds of mourners turned out Tuesday for an honorary Mass held in remembrance of slain journalist Gebran Tueni after a statue depicting the MP's "pen" was erected at the site where he was assassinated one year ago. "Gebran Tueni believed that Lebanon has no future without dialogue," Beirut Archbishop Elias Aoude, who presided over the mass, said at the Mar Mitr Church in Achrafieh.

Relatives of the late An-Nahar general manager were joined at the somber event by journalists and leading political leaders, including ministers Nayla Mouawad, Charles Rizk, Joseph Sarkis, Marwan Hamadeh, Elias Murr, Tarek Mitri and senior March 14 Forces member MP Walid Jumblatt and Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan.

Free Patriotic Movement MP Ghassan Mokheiber and former Speaker Hussein Husseini were on hand, seated next to family members MP Ghassan Tueni and Nayla Tueni, who repeatedly broke down into tears during the Mass.

"But a dialogue can't succeed if it is done through threats and force," Aoude said, taking a jab at Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

The Hizbullah leader took aim at Premier Fouad Siniora and his government last weekend during a massive protest in Downtown Beirut that called for the premier's resignation.

"The only dialogue we accept is a calm, sincere and committed one," Aoude added.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa was in Beirut Tuesday to hold meetings with Lebanon's political elite in an effort to broker a deal to end the enduring political deadlock.

"Love creates no fear, but only true love. Let's hope there is true love on all sides, and one committed to the love of Lebanon," the archbishop said.

Aoude said Lebanon must be run by Lebanese for Lebanese.

"Gebran died defending his country and his loved ones, and there is no greater and more dignified death than that," he said. "Gebran refused tutelage of any kind and we, as Lebanese, refuse foreign interference of any kind in the running of our country."

A ceremony held earlier in Mkalles, northeast of Beirut, saw the unveiling of a tribute to the late MP.

The statue, shaped to represent Tueni's pen and adorned with a portrait of the slain journalist, sits on the exact spot he was killed on December 12, 2005, in a large bomb blast.

"To the youth of Lebanon, its future, here is the place where Gebran's blood was spilled to leave a permanent illuminating symbol for you to remember in the fight for the freedom of Lebanon," Michelle Tueni, Gebran's youngest daughter, said in a speech at the unveiling.

"We all miss you; the newspaper, the youth, the members of Parliament, and I miss you, my dearest father," she said.

The road on which the statue now sits has been renamed Gebran Tueni Street, Michelle added, in honor of her father's "great sacrifice in the name of Lebanon's freedom."

"All the Lebanese that will pass through here will remember you and your oath calling for unity. So you will forever mark all our lives and the lives of the future," she said.

Beirut,12 13 2006
Rym Ghazal
The Daily Star
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