أنْ يَتَرَبَّصَ المرءُ بنفسه كذا وأربعين عاماً لينتهي به الأمرُ، من حيث المسمى الوظيفي، إلى «ناشِط» في «المجتمع المدني» أمر لا يخلو من العجب؛ والأولى بمن ينتهي به الأمر على هذا النحو أن يكون أول المتعجبين. والحال أنه عندي كذلك. فكلما تفقدت سيرتي مُتَسَقّطاً ما قد تنطوي عليه من مقدمات أو من مؤهلات تجعلني أستحق صفة «ناشِط» في «المجتمع المدني» عدت بخفي حنين...عياءَ جواب يشفي الغليل، ويكون مأتاه من سيرتي، لعل الأولى بي أن أبحث عن هذا الجواب في مَظَنَّة أخرى... في سيرة هذا البلد الذي ارتضيته وطناً، وحاولتُ أن أحمل فيه رتبتي كـ «مواطن» على محمل الجد!
حارة حريك ــ بيروت 1962.
كاتب وسينمائي وناشط اجتماعي وسياسي.
المدير المشارك لمؤسسة أمم للتوثيق والأبحاث.
مدير مؤسسة هيا بنا ــ لبنانيون في سبيل مواطنية جامعة.
Lokman Mohsen Slim (لقمان محسن سليم), is a Lebanese publisher and independent social and political activist, who lives and works in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Greater Beirut, South Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. He is also an internationally recognized commentator on Lebanese and Middle East politics.
Early Life and Career
Lokman Slim was born in Beirut in 1962, where he lived until moving to France in 1982 to study philosophy at the Sorbonne. He returned to Beirut in 1988. Two years later, he founded Dar al Jadeed Publishing House, which publishes Arabic literature and essays of controversial content. Its publications range from books banned by the Lebanese General Security to the first Arabic translations of the writings of Muhammad Khatami, the former Iranian reformist president, which generated controversy within the Shia community in Lebanon. Several of Slim's articles, essays, and translations have been published in English, French, and Arabic newspapers and books.
Art as Political Activism
In 2001, Slim moved into film with the establishment of Umam Productions, which has produced several films, including Massaker co-directed by Slim and winner of the Fipresci Award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005. In 2004, he co-founded Umam Documentation & Research (D&R), a non-profit organization based in the southern Beirut suburb of Haret Hreik, where the organization is creating an open archive of materials concerning Lebanon's social and political history. The organization organizes and facilitates exhibits at its famous “Hangar” for artists to openly address the scars of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), which is considered taboo and taught neither at the elementary or high school levels. Umam also organizes film screenings, art exhibitions, and discussions relating to civil violence and war memory.
One of Umam’s ongoing exhibits since 2008 is “Missing,” a collage of photographs depicting persons missing from the Lebanese Civil War. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with Committee of the Relatives of the Kidnapped and Missing in Lebanon, Support of the Lebanese in Detention and Exile, and the Committee of the Families of Lebanese Detainees in Syria along with hundreds of individuals related to the missing.
Civic Education as Driver for Political Change
Slim’s most recent project is Hayya Bina (HB), an initiative which began during the 2005 parliamentary elections in Lebanon with the aim of promoting citizen involvement in the political process and opposing Lebanon’s sectarian system. Slim himself compared the religiously based sectarian communities to “cells in which the Lebanese are jailed." Hayya Bina implements projects nationwide, working particularly in the Shiite communities of South Lebanon, the “Dahieh” of Beirut, Mount Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley regions.
In 2008, Hayya Bina participated as a partner with the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) “Citizen Lebanon” project. In conjunction with leadership and civic participation trainings conducted by NDI, Hayya Bina spearheaded a number of public advocacy projects in Shiite areas of Lebanon. In Baalbek, Hayya Bina’s field staff organized a pesticide project in order to help boost the economy of local farmers; in Shmustar, staff coordinated with residents to publicly advocate for garbage collection services to prevent communicable diseases from spreading; in Hermel, a region-wide project to clean up the Assi River. This project included environmental awareness activities, cleanup days, and formal discussions with elected officials.
Hayya Bina continues to implement Lebanon’s only nationwide English education program for adult women, “Teach Women English,” recruiting teachers in rural areas in order to bring classes to economically depressed areas in the south and Bekaa Valley. The program’s pedagogy combines formal grammar with substantive nodes, such as human rights, civics, workplace, and around-the-home vocabulary. The program’s cross-regional emphasis has also enabled rural teachers who have never left their villages to travel across the country for teacher training programs.