Lebanon News

No compromises on citizenship law: Foreign Minister

Minister Gebran Bassil speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday refused to compromise on a draft law that would grant citizenship to the descendants of Lebanese expatriates by expanding it to include the foreign spouses and children of Lebanese women.

"We will not give citizenship to people of Lebanese origins (grandchildren of Lebanese paternal grandfathers) in exchange for granting Palestinians and Syrians Lebanese nationality," Bassil said via his official Twitter page.

The agenda for parliamentary sessions scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13 includes a bill that would grant citizenship to Lebanese expatriates, but not the spouses of Lebanese women, angering activists. A group called My Nationality is a Right for Me and My Children organized a protest Wednesday decrying the addition of the expatriate citizenship draft law to Parliament’s agenda, calling the decision unfair.

Under current law, expatriates can only receive citizenship from their father. Some political parties are worried that granting women the right to pass on their citizenship would increase the number of Lebanese nationals of Palestinian or Syrian origin.

They cite demographic and sectarian concerns to justify the exclusion, claiming it would disrupt the country’s delicate sectarian makeup – particularly when it comes to passing nationality on to Palestinians, who are mainly Sunni.

 

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