The Killing of Hariri
The killing of the former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri in a massive bomb blast on 14 February 2005 brought Lebanon international attention again almost to the date 30 years since the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war on 13 April 1975.
The political fall-out of Hariri's murder was severe and caused a political upheaval and massive public demonstrations. It also increased the international pressure on Syria, forcing it to comply with the UN Security Council resolution 1559 demanding a Syrian withdrawal.
Rafiq Hariri was the personification of Lebanon's post-war economic miracle and his death exposed the country's inherent contradictions which the post-war era either had left unsolved or unexamined. The symbolical implications of Hariri's murder were likewise daunting; killed in the fashionable financial district in downtown Beirut he had been the driving force in reconstructing, the emotional impact was felt across the country's divided sectarian communities. Would Hariri's murder open the scars from the war and lead to new outbreaks of violence or could the political system this time contain the brimming political crisis? Buried at the Martyrs' Square outside a mosque he himself had funded, the late Hariri's new public image as billionaire-turned-martyr was as contradictory as the country itself.
The political stalemate following Hariri's assassination pitted the country's pro-Syrian government against the increasingly vocal opposition and both parties demonstrated their "street power" by staging massive grassroots demonstrations of a scale not previously seen in Lebanon. The "Cedar Revolution" in a dramatic way underlined Lebanon's underlying divisions between those favouring Syrian suzerainty and those opposed to it. But it also underlined the country's unity and the demand for "the truth" (Ar. al-haqiqa) behind Hariri's assassination.