Lebanon News

Women’s rights activists protest last-minute citizenship decree

Women and children protest a presidential decree in Riad al-Solh Square.

BEIRUT: Lebanese women’s rights activists organized a sit-in Wednesday to protest a presidential decree granting citizenship to more than 600 people, arguing that children of Lebanese women should be a priority.

“Giving Lebanese citizenship to foreign nationals, from the likes of Gerogios, Stephen and Robert, whether present inside Lebanon or outside Lebanon, is intentionally or unintentionally stripping us of a legitimate right recognized by civilized nations and uncivilized nations alike – [the right] to give the nationality to our children” said Mary Ghazal, a participant in the sit-in.

The “My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family” campaign organized a sit-in at Riad al-Solh Square and gathered Lebanese women married to foreigners and their children.

Under the current law, children can only receive Lebanese nationality through their fathers.

The activists said that the Lebanese government naturalized 644 non-Lebanese and offered people of Lebanese origin living abroad citizenship once they return to Lebanon, and yet Lebanese women were still denied the right to pass their nationality onto their children.

Lina Abu Habib from the campaign said: “The presidential decree granting citizenship to more than 600 people of different nationalities was done in accordance with sectarian considerations.”

Before the end of his term in May, former President Michel Sleiman gave Lebanese nationality to about 700 people.

Political sources told The Daily Star that the former president’s decree included 100 Americans, 54 French citizens, 30 Canadians, 20 Jordanians, 22 Britons, 48 Iraqis and 16 Egyptian families, and would also benefit five Saudis, 12 Brazilians, Mexican families and people from Tunisia, India, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Ukraine and the Philippines.

Among those to be granted the Lebanese citizenship are also around 145 Syrians and 82 Palestinians, in addition to 46 stateless people and 16 others whose nationality cases are still being considered, the sources added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 26, 2014, on page 3.




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