A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ghassan Tueni, 1926-2012, Dies at 86

Ghassan Tueni, lynchpin of a Lebanese political and journalism family, has died at the age of 86. The son of the founder of the Beirut newspaper Al-Nahar, he himself served as its Editor-in-Chief and Publisher for half a century, before handing it off to his late son. He also served in the Lebanese Parliament and in several Cabinet positions, and as Lebanon's Ambassador to the United Nations. (Full disclosure: This obituary is partly based on those of Al-Nahar and Naharnet.)

His father, Gebran Tueni, founded Al-Nahar in 1933, seven years after Ghassan was born. A Greek Orthodox Christian, Tueni attended AUB, where he studied under Charles Malik, and was pursuing further studies at Harvard when he had to return to Beirut on his father's death in 1947. He took over Al-Nahar, and was its Editor-and Chief and Publisher from 1948 to 1999.  and again in 2003.

His first wife, the poet Nadia Hamadeh, of a prominent Druze family, died of cancer; he lost a daughter, Nayla, quite young, and a son, Marwan, in an auto accident. His son and heir, both at Al-Nahar and in Parliament, also named Gebran Tueni after Ghassan's father, was assassinated in a car bombing in 2005 in the wake of the Hariri assassination. He is survived by his second wife, Shadia Al-Khazen, and several grandhildren.

In 1951 he was elected to the Lebanese Parliament from Beirut he was its Deputy Speaker 1953-57. He sered ss Deputy Prime Minister in 1970-71 and Minister of Information and National Education. In1975-77 he was Minister of Tourism, Social Affairs, Industry, Labor, and Information. From 1977 to 1982, during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War, Tueni served as Lebanon's Ambassador to the United Nations.
After the younger Gebran Tueni's assassination, he served again in Parliament, in the "family" seat (the Greek Orthodox seat for Beirut), 2006-2009.

Though his politics, like those of any Lebanese in the civil war era and since, made him both allies and enemies, his role as one of the most prominent Arab journalists of the 20th century is indisputable.

Today's political cartoon in Al-Nahar:

1 comment:

David Mack said...

On a mission for Kissinger, I first met Ghassan in August 1976 and several more times in the 1970s and 1980s. Like all Lebanese, people would identify him by his religious confession, but in all our meetings during those years of civil strife Ghassan struck me as the least sectarian of Lebanese political and opinion leaders. We should salute him as a true Lebanese patriot.