Mr. Slim went missing in February 2021 after having paid a visit to a friend in the southern Lebanese town of Niha. His body was found the following morning, having suffered numerous bullet wounds. His death has been an enormous loss not only for the publishing world at large, but also in particular for Lebanon and the future of freedom of expression in the country.

Slim’s political and cultural activism spanned different decades and involved a number of different initiatives. In partnership with his sister, Rasha Al Ameer, Slim co-founded Dar Al Jadeed publishing house in 2000 – an avant-garde publishing house with the objective to build bridges between generations, the MENA region, and the world, through the publication of cultural works free from ideological conflict or partisanship. With his wife Monika Borgmann, Slim also co-founded UMAM Documentation and Research in 2005, a non-governmental organization that collects archives about Lebanon’s history in an effort to foster dialogue and discussion about Lebanon’s conflict and violent past. He believed that the only way for Lebanon to truly move forward is for its people to address the violence that has afflicted its population and past – and for him, that meant bringing to light painful and taboo topics. Through his efforts, Slim demonstrated himself to be a true leader, fighting for citizen involvement in the political process and upholding the Lebanese people’s right to memory, truth and justice.

During the emotional 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire ceremony, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, upon receiving the Prix Voltaire, Lokman Slim’s sister Rasha Al Ameer expressed that “By honoring Lokman and Lebanon, the International Publishers Association sends a clear message to the [Lebanese] people who think that the free world has lost its ethical compass. The Prix Voltaire is saying to the two victims [Lokman and Lebanon]: ‘you are not alone. The Prix Voltaire and what it represents is watching and listening and will not be intimidated by the monsters: Lokman will not be forgotten, his projects should continue and the Lebanon that shares his values of accountability, transparency and justice should exist”.

IPA Vice President, Karine Pansa, who presented the award, underlined the bravery and sacrifice of the 2021 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate adding: “I am a publisher and I am committed to the freedom to publish, but would I be brave enough to publish a book that would land me in prison or put me and my family at risk? I am not sure that I could do that. And it is that kind of bravery that makes the people that we celebrate tonight such an inspiration”.

In memory of Lokman Slim and the countless others like him who have fearlessly and courageously fought censorship and repression, the International Publishers Association remains committed to upholding their principles and defending the freedom to publish around the world.