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Prominent Lebanese journalist Talal Salman dies at age 85 after long illness

BEIRUT (AP) — Journalist Talal Salman, who founded one of Lebanon's largest Arabic-language independent newspapers, died Friday after a long illness, the state-run National News Agency said. He was 85.

An Arab nationalist whose role model was late Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser, Salman devoted much of his writing to the Palestinian cause and calls for Arab unity.

Salman worked for several publications before founding the daily As-Safir in March 1974. The newspaper, which quickly became one of the country's largest, identified itself as “Lebanon’s newspaper in the Arab World and the Arab World’s newspaper in Lebanon” and published under the slogan “Voice of the Voiceless.”

Prominent journalists and writers from Lebanon and the region wrote for As-Safir and Salman was editor-in-chief until the paper closed down on Dec. 31, 2016, because of financial difficulties. After the newspaper ceased publication, Salman continued to write on a website that carried his name.

An early contributor to As-Safir was the late Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who created a character known as Handala that became a symbol of Palestinian identity. Readers also anticipated the editorials in which Salman analyzed the latest developments in Lebanon, the Middle East and the world.

In 1984, at the height of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, Salman survived an assassination attempt in front of his Beirut apartment. There were earlier attempts to blow up his house and As-Safir’s printing offices.

Born in 1938 in the northeastern town of Shmustar in Lebanon’s fertile Bekaa Valley, Salman later moved to Beirut and lived there much of his life.

He is survived by his wife, Afaf al-Asaad, daughters Hanadi and Rabia, and sons Ahmad and Ali. Salman also had several grandchildren.