WED 14 - 11 - 2018
Date: Jun 25, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanon: Hundreds demand women’s right to pass on nationality
BEIRUT: Protesters took to the streets of Beirut Sunday calling for Lebanese women to be able to pass their nationality onto their children, an issue that recently returned to the fore after the passage of a controversial naturalization decree.

Hundreds of demonstrators for the “My Nationality, My Dignity” campaign gathered at Riad al-Solh Square in Downtown Beirut, advocating for the law that currently prohibits Lebanese women from passing citizenship onto their children and foreign spouses to be overturned.

The protest came after President Michel Aoun signed a controversial naturalization decree to grant Lebanese citizenship to over 400 foreign nationals, to the outrage of those who have supported the cause of the campaign.

“Today we gather from different areas in Lebanon to denounce the naturalization decree and to denounce the marginalization of the children of Lebanese mothers married to foreigners [and the marginalization of] stateless people,” campaign coordinator Mustafa Shaar said at the protest, according to a statement released by the campaign.

While such naturalization decrees are not uncommon or unconstitutional, the timing and secrecy surrounding the recent order has sparked outrage across the country.

Some reports alleged naturalization was granted to people who paid large sums of money or had ties to the Syrian government, furthering concerns that Lebanese citizenship could be offered on the basis of financial and political incentives even as the country’s female citizens do not possess full citizenship rights.

“The president has the right to offer Lebanese nationality to a limited number [of people] within his jurisdiction. But the children of Lebanese mothers have rights and it is a priority to implement the Constitution, which calls for equality between citizens,” Shaar said.

He criticized the criteria on which the names were chosen, saying that the ambiguity surrounding the matter raised many questions.

Some political parties oppose granting women the right to pass on their citizenship, as they are afraid it would disrupt the country’s delicate sectarian makeup, particularly when it comes to passing nationality to Palestinians, who are mainly Sunnis.

“How is it that demography wasn’t taken into consideration in naturalizing those Palestinians and Syrians?” Shaar asked, referring to those named in the decree.

He said many promises had been made on the subject of women passing on their nationality in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections held on May 6, but said that these promises are yet to see the light.

“The campaign will no longer accept insults to the dignity of the Lebanese mother and her family, and we will not accept insults to the dignity of the stateless,” he said.

“We will continue the fight.”

The campaign’s statement described the decree as a continuation of authorities’ unjust policies affecting Lebanese women.

It also said the decree was unjust for giving citizenship rights to people with no connections to Lebanon, while “it oppresses the Lebanese mother and her children, who were born and have lived in Lebanon.”

The decree in question was signed by Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk in May, granting Lebanese citizenship to over 400 people of 20 different nationalities.

It was finally published in full by the Interior Ministry on June 7.

As a result of the controversy, Aoun tasked General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim with vetting the individuals named in the decree.

Local media reported last week that General Security intended to remove some of the names listed in the decree. Ibrahim was supposed to hand Aoun a report on the naturalization decree along with his notes.

The two met Friday, a source at Baabda Palace told The Daily Star.

But neither they nor a source from General Security could confirm whether Ibrahim had presented the report to Aoun.

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