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Sad News out of Lebanon

November 21, 2006

Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese industry minister and anti-Syria politician, was assasinated today while traveling through a suburb of Beiret. Gemayel, considered by many to be the foremost Christian leader of the Kataeb Social Democratic Party, is the fifth anti-Syria politician (and first member of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora’s government) to be killed in Lebanon during the past two years . Gemayel came from a strong Marionite Catholic family which had founded the Kataeb Party (better known as the Phalangist Party) and had seen two family members elected President. Gemayel was sharp in his criticism of what he perceived to be building aggression by Syria toward Saniora’s pro-democratic, pro-Western policies. He was a stalwart opponent of Syria’s historical involvement in Lebanese politics and the country’s continual support of Muslim Shiite Hezbollah and its various allies with whom Saniora’s cabinent is currently in a power struggle.

The U.S. State Department was quick in condemning the killing as a terrorist act, implicating Syria and Iran in a planned attempt to overthrow Saniora’s government. Lebanon’s state news agency has stated “This despicable crime aims to destroy stability and peace in Lebanon,” hinting at the desire to create instability amid an ethnically and religiously diverse political landscape.

Fox News reports:Gemayel, a 34-year-old member of the Phalange Party, had just left a church and was being driving in his car in Jdeideh when another vehicle slammed to a stop in front of him, causing his car to ram into it, security officials said. Witnesses reported that Gemayel’s car was also rammed from behind.

Three gunmen stepped out of the attack vehicles and shot Gemayel at point-blank range with automatic weapons, security officials said.

Footage from the scene showed Gemayel’s car, which apparently had been shot at from both sides: the passsenger-side window was completely shattered and the driver’s-side window was dotted by nearly a dozen bulletholes, and the front hood was crumpled.”

CNN and MSNBC also have the developing story. This is not the best news to hear on the eve of Benedict XVI’s trip to Turkey.

World leaders, including those of Syria and Iran, speak out.

Pope Benedict XVI reacts.

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