14 Sept 2012

See you in Beirut, Wajih.

It's a cruel twist of fate when I have to mourn a dear friend that I have never met. I have never seen Wajih Azjouz, never heard his voice, never had the chance to have that drink with him in Beirut. We came across each other in the virtual world, that was as generous in allowing me to know him as it was cruel in informing of his premature death. Shockingly, suddenly, arbitrarily.

What I know of Wajih was distilled in his passionate and rebellious persona. His uncompromising views, his dedication to the truth, and his firm belief in justice left an unforgettable impression on me. I thought of him as a friend, but perhaps more importantly as a rare voice that refuses to submit to the tyranny of the majority. He spoke his mind, forcefully and honestly, not out of juvenile contrarianism but deep belief and conviction. Rare qualities in a country like Lebanon, and the region widely, where the pressures to silence dissenting voices are becoming insufferable.

Wajih was many things. Much more than his television job. A researcher with a deep appetite for knowledge, an activist with a fiery commitment to his cause, and, above all, a free mind. His dedication to lost causes was epitomised by his support to Liverpool football club, a delusion that we both shared. His mischievousness and sense of humour reflected within him the rebels of a bygone era that he admired, men and women that fought with an appetite for life, out of passion and curiosity. Not the dull unimaginative type that abounds today.

Wajih died in car accident early this morning, on his way to Beirut. The place of our meeting that never took place. He was 25. A quarter of a century that made him many loyal friends and, in the tradition of any self-respecting rebel, many detractors. As his friends mourn him today, people that didn't see the world through his eyes should reflect on his honesty and uncompromising views. Disagree if you will, but respect his integrity and unwillingness to shut up.

Rest in peace, Wajih my friend. See you in Beirut.


Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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