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Protesters demand action on kidnapped journalist
September 26, 2017
Author: Timour Azhari
Source: The Daily Star
 
Dozens of demonstrators gathered Sunday in Downtown Beirut to demand government action to rescue missing photojournalist Samir Kassab. “We are here to press the government to resume speaking about Samir Kassab so that his case doesn’t lose priority against other [issues]. There are a lot of things that are being given more importance, and we ask them to take [his] case seriously,” Kassab’s mother Maggie Kassab told The Daily Star.
Protesters included family, friends, the head of Lebanon’s Press Syndicate and others who held signs calling for Kassab’s swift return and the government’s intervention on his behalf while lamenting the four year wait for news on his case.
“President Michel Aoun promised us that he would work on Samir’s case, and we are saying that we have faith in him,” Kassab’s mother said.
The protest was held at Samir Kassir square, named after the outspoken Lebanese journalist who was assassinated on June 5, 2005. According to demonstrators, the location of the protest was chosen to intentionally highlight the significance of Kassab’s case.
“We are here in this place, where we shouldn’t be, for two reasons, the first is that Samir Kassab and Samir Kassir hold the same name, the second is that both are martyrs,” said Boukhos Assaf, the former mayor of Kassab’s ancestral village of Hardin.
Assaf added that Kassab should have been, and had the right to be, included “in the negotiations between the Lebanese government and kidnappers of the [Lebanese Army servicemen],” referring to the recent cease-fire deal with militants at the end of the “Fajr al-Joroud” Army offensive against Daesh (ISIS) that included the return of bodies of slain soldiers. “We ask the Lebanese government ... where is Samir Kassab?” he said.
The former mayor criticized what he said was the Lebanese government’s inaction on the topic, saying that it was “undermining the worth of citizens, and doesn’t acknowledge a mother’s tears, or the broken heart of a father, or the mercy of God.”
Kassab’s brother, George, also spoke, saying that those who kidnapped his brother should talk to him, his family or General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
Kassab was kidnapped four years ago along with his Mauritanian Sky News colleague Ishak Moctar and a Syrian driver while working near Aleppo on assignment.
Protesters last demonstrated in front of the U.N.’s ESCWA building in downtown Beirut in February, asking U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to press for Kassab’s release.