This article furthers the study of post–civil war memorialisation
in Lebanon by analysing the trajectory of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
from statesman to martyr. This transformative process offers a window into the
symbolism of Lebanese statehood, and demonstrates how the politicisation of
confessional martyrs is used to decry injustice and stake out claims to the state.
There is no tradition for prosecuting and punishing political murders in Lebanon,
causing victims to be pronounced martyrs. Impunity is therefore the major reason
why martyrs and memorialising are so widespread. To this end, the article offers a
semiotic reading of Hariri’s posthumous transformation from political patron to
patron saint, and is a contribution towards the importance of martyr symbolism
for understanding the purported weakness of Lebanese statehood.