Thousands March for Bashir Gemayel despite ban (September 22, 1997)

Bachir Gemayel, Discours et Textes, Samir Geagea

Following a memorial service held last Sunday to mark the 15th anniversary of the assassination of the Maronite president-elect Bashir Gemayel of Lebanon, thousands of people marched to the site of his death in Ashrafieh, defying an explicit government ban. The crowd chanting “Bashir still lives among us” waved flags of the Lebanese Forces and pictures of Samir Geagea, the jailed Lebanese Forces leader. The 15-year-old Nadim Gemayel delivered a speech calling on his father’s followers to act on their beliefs. “It is time, in the name of the man who died for us, to stop talking and start acting, because the days of empty words are over”, Nadim said, drawing thunderous applause. In 1982 the Syrian government decided to eliminate Bashir Gemayel shortly after his election and before his swearing in. On September 14, Bashir was meeting with a group of Phalangists at the party’s Ashrafiye branch in East Beirut. He was killed in a bomb blast planted and set off by Habib Tanious Shartouni, a member of the pro-Damascus National Syrian Socialist Party which favored the merger of Syria, Lebanon, and Palastine. According to Washington Post only Bashir Gemayel’s prominent nose, the dimple on his chin, and his hexagonal wedding ring could be identified from his remains. A Phalangist militia leader, Bashir Gemayel, and Israeli Prime Minister, Menachim Begin, had mounted an effort to drive the PLO and the Syrians out of Lebanon.

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