Following the passing of Walid Abou Zahr in April 2004, many prominent figures expressed their condolences as well as their gratitude for his admirable contribution to the Arab Media world. Various Arab and foreign media published articles retracing the late journalist’s journey in the press field, which lasted four decades. The most prominent title, which was unanimously agreed upon was that Walid Abou Zahr’s death was a great loss to the Arab press. The media remembered the countless scoops associated with his name, the deserving achievements he performed and most importantly his admirable courage in defending Arab causes.
HRH King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques
Walid Abou Zahr has a special status in our hearts, he is one of the few men who remains in our memory and cannot be forgotten. He belongs to the category of men who kept their promises, and who the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia appreciate for their valuable positions throughout their work in the press and the media.
HE Amine Gemayel, Former President of Lebanon
Walid Abou Zahr was one of the greatest men in the press and the media during a precarious Arab era, and has had a profound influence on the vast masses in the Arab world through the massive spread of his weekly magazine Al Watan Al Arabi.
He was notorious for his courage, his fearlessness and for bravely addressing topics in Arab politics that no one else dared to touch. He broke taboos and was in that sense a visionary who was ahead of his time.
His powerful words in the pages of Al Watan Al Arabi were straightforward and bold, which provoked many problems and violent reactions with some rulers and politicians that were against him. That never altered his opinions and positions.
Walid Abou Zahr was really a man who didn’t fear anyone. He told the truth without taking into consideration the consequences of his forthrightness even if the risks on his personal and professional life were often extremely high.
He was able to overcome the many difficulties that came across his journalistic authority, by adopting a permanent mobility between the world’s biggest capitals. By doing so, he not only managed to give not continuity to his organization, but also grant it prosperity and development.
Abou Zahr was a close friend, and throughout the decades we have shared many debates. If we didn’t always agree and our opinions sometimes differ, it did not prevent us from having great
mutual respect. Despite the audacity of his views and his admirable determination, he always respected others’ opinions and was a great listener. That has always transpired in his magazine.
I can never forget the heroic standpoint he took by defending our political situation at a time when no one else dared to spread our ideas and views. He gave us his magazine as a platform to share our honest opinions during a very difficult period.
This painful and unexpected loss will leave a great void in the Arab media.
HE Michel Aoun, President of Lebanon
Today, we all grieve the loss of Professor Walid Abou Zahr, may God have mercy on his soul.
Today, we lost, a great man with a great struggle. A man who through out his life, bravely and sincerely carried the message of his country; Lebanon and the one of the Arab nation. Walid Abou Zahr worked hard to serve them in the best possible way.
He lived a courageous life, and he lived for his passion; providing the truth about his country and his nation.
Although his life was threatened on more than one occasion, he wasn’t afraid to die for his cause. No assassination attempts, no regime threats could silence him.
I will say it again. Today, we lost a true fighter, and if anyone had faced his challenging fate and sacrificed the way this man sacrificed, things would have been different for our homeland and our nation.
On this occasion, I extend my sincere condolences to the Abou Zahr family and ask God to give them patience. May Walid Abou Zahr’s soul rest in peace.
Cairo: The last great journalist
In Cairo, the official Middle East News Agency «MENA» grieved the death of Walid Abou Zahr, and broadcasted details of his life and his funeral, mentioning his will to be buried in his beloved Egypt.
On the 18th of April, leading Egyptian newspapers reported the news of Walid Abou Zahr’s passing. Al Ahram announced the news on its first page while Al Akhbar and Al Gomhouria newspapers published it along with a photograph of the late journalist. All newspapers mentioned the great influential role Abou Zahr’s publications had on the Arab world.
Beirut: The undefeated one
In Beirut, the head of the press and editors Mohamed Baalbeki and Melhem Karam stated that the death of Abou Zahr was a loss for the Lebanese and Arab press. Stating that his magazine was among the most widespread in the Arab world and the world. A pioneer with high professional standards, his achievements in the news arena were many. He interviewed to Arab and international leaders, and published a series of investigations and rare documentaries. Through his strong personality and international friendships, he made the word Al Watan Al Arabi steadfast.
Al-Baalbaki and Karam underlined that Abou Zahr did would accept humiliation or defeat; he did not know the words cowardice and complacency. He fought for freedom and dignity. His journey and his work were exceptional. They added: “Abou Zahr did not go for politically correct, he was always standing courageously, devotedly committing himself to the profession and the Arab national issues. They Compared him to a tree branch that does not yield nor soften and mentioned how he has always given the Palestinian cause his full attention.
They concluded by saying: “The Arab press cries Abou Zahr, the journalist, the human being and the fighter.”
Walid Al Husseini, the editor of Al Kifah Al Arabi said: “The Arab homeland will miss Abou Zahr; a colleague, who was driven out of Lebanon by the civil war. He was a different kind of journalist who mastered the secrets of the profession and knew how to access secrets of events. He always knew what the reader wanted and never hesitated to publish it, irrespective of the consequences. That is why all his journalistic endeavors since their beginnings have been so successful . ”
Lebanese newspapers issued, on April 19, the news of Walid Abou Zahr’s passing along with its editors’ Al Nahar, Al Safir, Al Diyar, Al Mustaqbal, Al Bayraq, Al Sharq’s sincere condolences. All agreed that Abou Zahr spent most of his life in the media field, attaining great journalistic expertise that contributed to the development of policies in the Arab region.
Paris: Mourning the immigrant press
In Paris, “Le Matin” published a wide-spread report on the death of Abou Zahr they titled: «Immigrated Arab press in mourning». In this article, they highlight the leading role of Abou Zahr in the world of Arab immigrant journalism, underlining that Abou Zahr was the founder of the first Arabic print magazine published out of the Arab world and that this weekly magazine had boundless influence on the Arab world.
London: A man with resolute positions
In London, the newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published, on its front page the news about Abou Zahr’s passing in its April 18th issue.
In the article they recount how Walid Abou Zahr completed the path of his brother Hisham in Al Moharrer in Lebanon before emigrating to Paris where he launched the successful Al Watan Al Arabi.
Morocco: The loss of a brave man
“Survived nine assassination attempts and was buried in Cairo. Walid Abou Zahr: the loss of a brave man”. Under this title that was used by many Moroccan medias, Morocco offered a touching commemoration of the late journalist.
Moroccan newspapers compared the loss of Abou Zahr to a leaf falling from the tree of the pioneers of Arab journalism, underlining how this guardian of the truth always created audacious media ventures for his dear readers regardless of the pressures he would get from regime, businessmen and politicians.