Renowned journalist and honourary president plus former chairman of the board of directors of Lebanon's An Nahar newspaper, Ghassan Tueni, passed away dawn Friday, at the age of 86. The veteran reporter was in the hospital for the past three to four weeks.
Born in 1926, Tueni had a long career as a journalist, politician, diplomat, and educator.
He studied at the American University of Beirut and went for further studies to the US. He returned to Beirut after studying political science at Harvard University after the sudden death of his father Gebran in 1947.
He was elected a lawmaker in 1951 and became deputy speaker from 1953 to 1957, and a member of the Lebanese UN delegation in 1957. He later served as deputy prime minister, as head of several ministries, personal adviser to presidents, and as Lebanon's UN ambassador.
As Lebanon's ambassador to the United Nations between 1977 and 1982 at height of the civil war, he recalls "yelling, literally yelling, in a Security Council meeting, 'Let my people live!' and proclaiming before the General Assembly, 'My country is not for hire nor for sale!'"
From 1970-71 he was deputy prime minister and minister of information and national education. From 1975 to 1977 he was appointed the minister of tourism, social affairs, industry, labour and information.
He took over the An Nahar newspaper that his father had founded and then served as editor-in-chief and editor-publisher for more than half a century, from 1948 until 1999. In 2003 he once again resumed his duties as editor-in-chief.
Tueni’s son Gebran, also a former lawmaker, was assassinated in 2005. He was among the series of politicians and journalists who were targeted following ex-premier Rafiq Hariri’s assassination.
Gebran’s death in a car bomb dealt a severe blow Ghassan Tueni, who was by then no stranger to personal tragedy. His wife, poet Nadia Hamadeh, died in 1983 and his daughter Nayla also passed away while very young. His youngest son, Makram, died in a car crash in 1987.
Throughout his career, Tueni was at the forefront of the struggle for Lebanese freedom, independence, and sovereignty.
In addition to his numerous editorials and articles in Arabic and English on the Middle East, Palestine, and the Lebanese wars, Tueni's publications include "Laissez vivre mon peuple!" 1984; "Une guerre pour les autres", 1985; and in Arabic, "Letters to President Sarkis", 1995; "Professional and Other Secrets", 1995; "The Republic on Vacation", 1992, 2004; and, with Jean Lacouture and Gérard D. Khoury, "Un siècle pour rien", 2003.
Ghassan Tueni is survived by his wife Shadia al-Khazen.