Lebanon mourns former minister killed in blast

December 30, 2013 - 7:05:05 am

Family and friends of former Lebanese finance minister Mohammad Chatah mourn during his funeral at the Mohammed Al Amin mosque in downtown Beirut yesterday.

BEIRUT: Lebanese mourners in Beirut yesterday buried Mohammad Chatah, a prominent critic of the Syrian regime killed in a car bombing that revived painful memories of political assassinations.

Angry citizens chanted slogans against the powerful Lebanese Shia Hezbollah movement, an ally of the Syrian regime, which has been accused of killing Chatah and other critics in recent years.

Chatah, 62, a Sunni Muslim former finance minister and close aide to ex-prime minister Saad Hariri, was killed on Friday along with seven other people in a blast in the heart of Beirut.

The bombing raised fears about the fragile situation in Lebanon, which has seen the war in neighbouring Syria regularly spill over.

Heavy security was in place as the bodies of Chatah and his bodyguard Tarek Badr were transported from western Beirut to a mosque downtown for prayers and burial. Chatah was buried at the mausoleum of Hariri’s father Rafiq, who was also killed in a huge suicide bombing on the Beirut seafront on February 14, 2005 that supporters blame on Syria and Hezbollah.

Hundreds of mourners gathered, including distraught members of Chatah’s family and political dignitaries.

His coffin was brought into the mosque draped in a green and cream-striped material with religious verses on it, alongside that of his bodyguard Badr.

Inside the mosque, the coffins were laid side by side, and one of Chatah’s sons gripped a relative of Badr’s, embracing him as they both wept. Outside, mourners in black watched the proceedings on a large screen, one waving a Lebanese flag. Behind them stood a lit Christmas tree and a newly erected billboard declaring Chatah a “martyr for moderation”.AFP

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