TRIPOLI, LEBANON, JUNE 3 -- In a feverish show of emotion today, half a million people jammed the streets of this northern port city to catch a last glimpse of Lebanon's assassinated Prime Minister Rashid Karami before he was lowered onto a bed of jasmine flowers in a grave in his family's cemetery plot.
Chanting "God is great," tearful crowds jostled and shoved as the coffin, draped in the Lebanese flag and decked with flowers, was placed on a gun carriage. Officials from Syria, with which Karami was closely allied, and Jordan joined diplomats of other countries for the funeral.
Karami was killed Monday when a bomb exploded in a helicopter carrying him and aides from Tripoli to Beirut. There has been no indication who was behind the attack.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people stood on rooftops and verandas to watch the cortege through the city that has long been identified with the Karami family.
Sorrowful moaning gave way to clapping and cheering when Selim Hoss, named acting prime minister, arrived at Karami's ancestral palace. Hoss, an asthmatic, fainted during prayers.
Lebanese troops and steel-helmeted Syrian soldiers lined the streets leading to the public cemetery where Karami's body was laid to rest.
Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam and other senior Syrian officials attended the funeral, along with Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Abdul-Wahab Majali.
Silence gripped the throngs outside the palace when Druze leader Walid Jumblatt arrived at the head of a chanting 500-man delegation.
"Walid has come to bid you farewell and ask you to greet Kamal," the Druze procession chanted. Kamal Jumblatt, father of Walid, was assassinated in 1977 near a Syrian checkpoint in the hills southeast of Beirut. White-turbaned Druze carried posters showing Kamal Jumblatt shaking hands with Karami. It was criticism by Walid Jumblatt, who is transport and tourism minister, that prompted Karami last month to attempt to resign.
Mourners shouted: "God damn and burn those who killed him. Each son of Tripoli can get a hundred of them."
The Mina Sufi band loudly beat large drums, and Sufi scholars, dressed in floating gold-colored robes and pointed green caps, stood dazed on the street leading to the cemetery. The Sufis, a mystic Islamic sect, consider their forefathers the ancient inhabitants of Tripoli.
Ismail Naboushi, a Karami family driver since 1948, was inconsolable. He sat on a marble tomb and said, his lips quivering, "After today, no job can ever appeal to me. I will just sit in my corner at home. He was part of my life. I feel I have been shattered and my wings have been broken."