BEIRUT: Lebanese journalist Mazen Diab, who was found murdered in his apartment in Amman last Friday, was laid to rest by a crowd of relatives, colleagues and celebrities in Beirut Monday.
Carried by his two bereaved brothers in a brown wooden coffin, Diab's body entered the Khashoggi Mosque, where his loved ones were waiting to see the talented 31-year-old radio host for the last time.
Diab’s friends, many of whom traveled from Jordan to attend his funeral, gathered in the mosque’s hall with shock and sorrow dominating their faces.
“I refused to believe the news until I arrived to the crime scene and saw the yellow tape,” said Firas Gebran, Diab’s closest friend and his long-time colleague.
Diab's brothers Marwan and Malek, who had told reporters their ill father was in intensive care, broke down in tears over their brother’s casket at some moments, and sat in silently, seemingly traumatized at others.
“No one expected this young man to die just after he stood back up on his feet,” said Ahmad Abou Jaafar, a Jordanian journalist and Diab’s colleague.
“He was a big part of Sawt al-Ghadd, and he was very special. Every single day, he used to come in the office and draw smiles over his colleagues’ faces.”
In 2013, Mazen was diagnosed with lung cancer, which he struggled with for several months before going into remission by the end of that year.
He went back on air last January, announcing that he survived the tumor.
“However, what people do not know is that while Mazen was making jokes and spreading laughter, he was suffering from horrible physical pain,” said Gebran.
“He used to take painkillers before every show, and he just recently visited the doctor to increase the dose. But the latter told him he had already reached the maximum.”
Four men, one of whom had personal problems with Diab, were behind the murder that took place at his apartment in Mecca Street, Amman.
A colleague said Diab was supposed to attend an engagement of one of his friends that day, causing them to be worried when he did not answer his phone.
“They went to his apartment and found his car outside, and this is when they became extremely worried.”
Breaking into the house, Diab’s friends found his lifeless body, with feet tied by shoelaces, hands tied with the wire of a phone charger and a keffiyeh around his mouth.
Jordanian authorities released a statement Saturday saying they had arrested the four suspects, and that the cause of Diab’s death was an internal bleeding after the victim was hit with a sharp object.
One of the four suspects had met Diab during an episode of his show but the relationship was marked with problems. As a result, he asked three of his friends to help him kill Diab, the police report said.
Diab made his mark in 2002 during a once-popular talent show on LBCI '"Studio al-Fan" in the category of hosting programs. He graduated from the Beirut Arab University before working for several stations and magazines in Beirut. He also hosted a number of events in Dubai.
In 2008, Diab was awarded Best Lebanese Media Personality by the Jaras Channel. Diab also used his struggle with cancer to raise awareness about the need for people to undergo screening as a part of the campaign "It is my turn: Never say it is too early ... cancer has no time."