BEIRUT: Local delegations, religious leaders and politicians paid tribute Thursday to the late Rafik Hariri, on the eighth anniversary of the five-time prime minister’s assassination.
People wanting to pay their respects to the late Hariri visited his grave next to the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque in Downtown Beirut.
“The project of Rafik Hariri is continuing to be sabotaged in Lebanon today, especially his main slogan: national unity and coexistence,” Future Movement MP Jamal Jarrah said at the burial site.
“We will be faithful to the 1.5 million people who chanted with [the late MP] Gebran Tueni: ‘We will stay united forever,’” Jarrah vowed.
He said the Future Movement would carry on in the footsteps of Hariri until a true democracy is realized in Lebanon.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati sent a wreath to pay his respects to Hariri, the National News Agency reported.
A delegation from the Democratic Renewal Movement, led by Secretary-General Antoine Haddad, also paid a visit to the site as did U. N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly, according to a statement from his office. Plumbly also telephone former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of the slain leader, and paid his condolences.
“The United Nations continues to underscore the need to bring those responsible to justice and to put an end once and for all to impunity in Lebanon,” he said in a statement.
A Progressive Socialist Party delegation also paid its respects, led by Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi, Minister for the Displaced Alaeddine Terro, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour and Aley MP Akram Shehayeb.
Also in attendance were Information Minister Walid Daouk and a number of MPs from March 14 and the Future Movement, including Secretariat General Coordinator Fares Soueid, former MP’s Samir Franjieh, Ghattas Khoury and Mosbah Ahdab.
Hariri’s family members, his sister Sidon MP Bahia Hariri and her family, as well as the families of the men who perished with the former prime minister and the family of the late Wissam al-Hasan were present.
Shiite scholar Ali Amin was also on hand to pay his respects.
The Association of Future Movement Women paid tribute to Hariri with a seminar held at the Mohammad al-Amin Mosque entitled “Rafik Hariri and the Modernization Project.”
“Danger is encircling us and conspiracies are plotted to instigate a sectarian war either among the Lebanese people or between certain groups and the Army. ... But we will not give up and Muslims and Christians will stay unified hand-in-hand,” said Leila Turk, who leads the association, in a speech.
Chouf MP Marwan Hamade said Feb. 14 would always be an “ominous day,” describing the events eight years ago as an “earthquake.”
“The aftershocks are visible today in some Arab capitals, particularly in beloved Damascus, where the heroic Syrian people are rising up against the regime which has oppressed them for more than 40 years,” Hamade told the local Radio Orient station.
The North Lebanon Bar Association said this year’s commemoration was especially significant, since it “coincides this year with the start of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s trial of the suspects who committed this act of terrorism; [this will] uncover the truth and put an end to impunity [for criminals].”