Souha Bechara

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Souha Bechara
سهى بشارة
Soha Bechara.jpg
Souha Bechara in 2006
Born (1967-06-15)June 15, 1967
Deir Mimas, Lebanon
Nationality Lebanese
Occupation Activist, Writer

Souha Fawaz Bechara also spelled Souha Bechara or Soha Bechara (Arabic : سهى فواز بشارة) (born June 15, 1967) is a Lebanese national. In 1988, at the age of twenty one, she attempted to assassinate General Antoine Lahad of the South Lebanon Army, a militia funded by Israel. Bechara was quickly arrested and held in the infamous Khiam prison. She was released on September 3, 1998, following an intense Lebanese and European campaign. In 2000, she published her autobiography, Résistante, relating her early life and her years in jail. English and Arabic translations following in 2003.[1] In 2011, Bechara published another autobiography, whose Arabic title translates as I Dream of a Cell of Cherries. Her co-author, Cosette Elias Ibrahim, is a Lebanese journalist who was also detained in the Khiam prison. She was released on the 22nd of May 2000, when Israel pulled out of the south of Lebanon and the South Lebanon Army forces abandoned the Khiam prison.

Parts of Bechara's story were used in Wajdi Mouawad 2003 play, Incendies, which Denis Villeneuve adapted to the screen in his 2010 film by the same name.[2][3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Souha Bechara was born in Deir Mimas, Lebanon and raised in an Eastern Orthodox family. Her father, Fawaz Bechara, is a member of the Lebanese Communist Party, which Souha Bechara herself also joined secretly in 1982, the year in which Israel invaded Lebanon and was active within the bodies of the party, its resistance front Jammoul and also in Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth.

The attempted assassination[edit]

Cover of Resistance: My Life for Lebanon.

Souha Bechara left college in 1986 and joined militant activities in Lebanon. She was given the task of assassinating Lahad. Consequently, she headed south, introduced herself to Lahad's family as an aerobics instructor to his wife Minerva. Gradually, she familiarised herself with the family's members and visited them continually. On the evening of the operation, 17 November 1988, Lahad's wife invited Bechara for tea. Bechara accepted the invitation and stayed until Lahad's arrival. As she was packing her belongings and leaving, Bechara twice shot Lahad with a 5.45 mm revolver. He was shot once in the chest and once in the shoulder, then Bechara threw the gun away before his body guards arrested her.

Lahad was rushed to hospital and spent eight weeks in hospital, suffering from serious health complications. His left arm was paralysed. Bechara was detained by the security guards in the house, taken to Israel briefly, where she was interrogated and beaten. She was then taken to Khiam prison for ten years, without being charged or tried. She suffered electric shock therapy and six years of solitary confinement in a tiny cell.

After her release, Bechara moved to France and then to Geneva, Switzerland, where she married a Swiss national. They had two children. She has also worked with Collectif Urgence Palestine–Genève. Bechara remains a frequent lecturer and advocate for a socialist, democratic, and non-sectarian Lebanon.


  1. ^ Béchara, Souha [with Gilles Paris], Résistante (N.P.: J. C. Lattès, 2000); trans. as Soha Bechara, Resistance: My Life for Lebanon (Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull P, 2003)
  2. ^ "Seeing yourself re-made as fiction". 
  3. ^ "Lebanese civil war explodes screen Incendies". 
  4. ^ "Incendies". 
  5. ^ Holstun, Jim (Fall 2015). "Antigone Becomes Jocasta: Soha Bechara, Résistante, and Incendies". Mediations vol. 29, no. 1. Retrieved 19 July 2017. 

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