A living legacy

Bronze statue of the late, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri at the site of the explosion in Beirut. (Archive Photo/The Daily Star)

Tuesday marks the seventh anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an event of far-reaching consequences from which this country has never fully recovered.

Hariri and several other stars of the time who shared his political vision and were assassinated in the surrounding months left a political, economic and social legacy that Lebanon feels to this day.

Lebanese citizens and international observers would have to be blind not to see the positive impact Hariri had on the reconstruction of the country in the decade following the Civil War. Add to this his role as a crucial advocate of national unity and his solid Arab and international relations, and it is clear he was a true statesman, a figure larger than life.

It is also therefore obvious that in this part of the world he would inevitably come to be seen by some as a threat to the political society of both the Lebanese and regional powers.

During his time in office and beyond, Hariri began to make most politicians look like midgets in comparison, putting into action what others could only make empty promises about, and showing other leaders up for their commitment to petty power struggles over real change.

In exposing the failures of others, he posed a threat to established power and thereby created an atmosphere of envy among those who considered this new way of doing politics to be dangerous to their hold over the country.

As a result of his determination and commitment, Hariri became the target during his time of concerted attacks, as others sought to tarnish his image and reduce his influence. But despite their intensity, they could do nothing to blemish his popularity with the electorate across the board.

Unfortunately for the Lebanese a decision was ultimately made to eliminate him, because of his refusal to conform and to be confined to the restrictions that have left other politicians in the country under the influence of regional and international powers.

It has been seven years since that day, and the only bright light at the end of the tunnel is that international justice is expected to take its course, despite all the hurdles that have been put in its way, to bring Hariri’s killers to trial.

Only after the Special Tribunal for Lebanon reaches its conclusion will the Lebanese be satisfied that justice has been served for one of the great men of this country, who succeeded in putting the country on the international map as a player and not simply as a tool.

In the meantime, Lebanese have a duty to uphold Hariri’s legacy, and the legacy of those who died for the same cause, if they aspire to have a country that is independent, democratic, sovereign, and where the 18 sects live in harmony. That legacy is a treasure that should be upheld, and its importance should not be forgotten.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 14, 2012, on page 7.




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