Samir Kassir`s death: one hour in silence

As bells tolled from nearby churches, some 200 journalists and politicians stood for one hour in silence Friday to mourn a colleague who was killed in a &to=http:// ' target=_blank>car bomb the day before.

The crowd in downtown Martyrs' Square held photos of Samir Kassir, the prominent anti-Syrian journalist slain Thursday, and raised black pens to symbolize freedom of expression. At the end of the hour, they sang the national anthem.

Kassir was killed inside his car at midmorning in the Christian Beirut neighborhood of Ashrafieh, where he lived. The bomb set the car afire and shattered windows in nearby buildings.

The opposition accused &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Syria of interfering in Lebanon's politics and called for a general strike on Friday. An-Nahar newspaper, for which Kassir was a columnist, staged the silent protest just 200 yards from its office building.

Many schools closed, while others suspended classes. But the call for a widespread strike came too late for many people to heed. Only a handful of shops were closed in Ashrafieh, reports the Guardian Unlimited.

The bombing victim, Samir Kassir, 45, was a respected and influential columnist at the leading Lebanese daily, An Nahar. A senior security official said he died instantly when explosives placed under the driver's seat of his Alfa Romeo were detonated shortly after he got into the car in the Beirut neighborhood where he lived.

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