|Saad loses final battle against cancer
Resistance leader, defender of the poor dies at 51
Daily Star correspondent
Sidon MP Mustafa Saad, one of the countrys civil
war-era symbols, lost his long-running battle with lung cancer Thursday, succumbing in
Beirut at the age of 51.
A leading figure of resistance to the Israeli occupation of his home town and a defender
of low-income groups, Saad stayed active in political life for more than 17 years after
the deadliest of three attempts on his life all blamed on Israel when 150 kilograms
of TNT left his face deeply scarred and killed his 13 year-old daughter Natasha and a
neighbor, while his Russian wife, Luba, lost one eye.
He also lost his sight in the Jan. 21, 1985 attack.
He survived a 1987 ambush on his motorcade in the Beirut suburb of Ouzai, which killed two
of his bodyguards, and in January 1995, a car rigged with explosives was discovered and
defused outside his Sidon home.
Saad continued to demand the opening of an investigation into the 1985 bombing, but the
case remains unsolved and in the files of the Judicial Council until this day.
Parliament announced Saads passing shortly after his death at 1.30pm at the American
University Medical Center, while Prime Minister Rafik Hariri left for Sidon to pay his
condolences after the Cabinet session.
Shops began closing in Sidon as news of the popular MPs death spread, and a large
funeral is scheduled for Friday.
Abdel-Rahman Bizri, a leading figure in the city, said Lebanon had lost a leading
distinguished figure of politics and struggle who, until his final
moments, spent his life confronting occupation and lobbying for the peoples rights,
despite his struggle with cancer.
Saad was an agricultural engineering student in the Soviet Union when his father, Sidon MP
Maarouf Saad, was assassinated in February 1975 during a demonstration to support the
citys fishermen, an incident that some consider one of the opening shots of the
Saad rushed back to Lebanon to take over as secretary-general of the Popular Nasserite
Organization, founded and headed by his father.
Saad was a leading member in the Lebanese-Palestinian military and political alliance
until the Israeli invasion of 1982, when he was forced to leave Sidon, but returned
shortly afterward at great personal risk.
He was arrested on two occasions by Israeli forces, but continued to be active in the
In the wake of Israels 1985 withdrawal from Sidon, Saad formed the Popular
Liberation Army militia, which along with other factions took responsibility for keeping
the precarious peace in Sidon.
After the war, Saad was elected to one of Sidons two Sunni seats in Parliament in
1992, 1996 and 2000, picking up the highest number of votes in the south Lebanon-Nabatieh
district in the final round.
Saads was a fierce critic of Hariris liberal economic policies, although his
last months saw a mellowing, marked by comments that Hariri should not be held solely
responsible for the countrys dire economic situation.
In the 1990s, Saad was a staunch member of the parliamentary opposition, and supported
building a state of law and institutions as he took frequent aim at the growth of the
Although a supporter of Emile Lahouds presidency, Saad was also opposed to
militarizing the political system.
Saad was also active on humanitarian and social issues, establishing the Maarouf Saad
Cultural Center, in a bid to boost the citys cultural and intellectual life, which
had suffered from the years of Israeli occupation.
Affected by his own loss of sight, Saad and his wife Najla helped establish a national eye
bank in the 1990s, which provides free cornea transplant operations to Lebanese from all
regions and sects.
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