“Thank you all for coming today, to celebrate the life of a man we admired and so loved. M. Cherif Bassiouni.”
Mourning M. Cherif Bassiouni comes in waves, in the form of tears and laughter, for the more than 100 people who attended his memorial service.
Caring, fearless, the father of international criminal justice – are just a few of the phrases that his friends and loved ones used to describe the DePaul professor.
“The ultimate proof of his success is not only what he has accomplished in the field of international criminal justice, but also bringing people together from different parts of the world,” the United Nations Section Chief, Ahmed Seif El-Dawla, said at the service.
M. Cherif Bassiouni was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, helped negotiate peace between nations, including the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt. In 1964, he began teaching law at DePaul, where he also created the International Human Rights Law Institute.
“He fought as a warrior for justice who confronted the worst in man with the best in man. He fought right with right and violence with tolerance and he stood for virtue in the face of evil,” said Mohamed Helal a professor at The Ohio State University.
Renowned leaders, government officials, activists, and friends from all walks of life attended his service. Some even crossed borders and oceans to mourn the international community’s loss.
The Ambassador of Bahrain spoke on behalf of the King to thank Bassiouni once again for his work documenting the horrendous human rights violations in Bahrain in 2011.
“Bassiouni’s transparency, articulation, fact-finding mission pointed towards a truth that was hard to ignore. Your majesty the king recognizes the imperative role and sacrifices that Professor Bassiouni underwent.”
Despite the layers of accolades and accomplishments in Bassiouni’s career, he also faced many setbacks as a Muslim. At times, his qualifications and objectivity were questioned. Yet with each confrontation with discrimination, he pushed forward.
“Cherif has left an extraordinary legacy. The question is how will we respond? Will we garner strength from his memory and move forward, understanding as he did that what we do matters?” His wife Elaine Klemen-Bassiouni said, fighting back tears near the end of the service.
Music was another love of Bassiouni’s, and it only seemed fitting that instruments and voices filled the lofty room in the Symphony Center, where his memorial was held.