Sunday December 8, 2019

Lebanon Citizen Law: Marrying a foreigner strips the Woman of her Identity and property

There are about 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon and they cannot own properties and are even barred from working in 20 nominated professions, says an estimation done by UN.

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A bride blows a kiss while carrying an umbrella in a vehicle along a street in Beirut, Lebanon May 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi - RTSFBLO

BEIRUT- Nadise Moussa could have been more proud as a mother when her teenage daughter was selected for a national Lebanese team for football. But, never had she thought that the celebrations will not last long and her daughter’s dreams will be shattered.

Women like Moussa, who are married to foreigners, cannot pass on their National identity to their husbands or children. Not just that. The children cannot even inherit or own their parent’s property.

Moussa said with a deep regret, “She was selected and then told she was not allowed on the team because she is not Lebanese.” The news left her daughter devastated and she stopped playing football after that as she felt excluded and rejected in her own country.

“I have always felt like a second-class citizen, being deprived of the right to give my nationality to my children and my family, said Moussa, a lawyer, long-time activist and Lebanon’s first female presidential candidate.

A Lebanese woman during the 2006 Lebanon war. Image source: Wikipedia
A Lebanese woman during the 2006 Lebanon war. Image source: Wikipedia

According to the law, if you are married to a foreigner, the children cannot access public health or education. Not just that. Even when they are old enough, they cannot work without a permit. Moussa’s two daughters are and will be going through the same state.

According to a 2009 study, Predicament of Lebanese Women Married to Non-Lebanese, the Labanon law has affected more than 77,000 people in a negative way.

Situations are even worse for Lebanese women who got married to Palestinian men, as Lebanon Law denies any right to own properties by Palestinians in Lebanon.

The campaign to reform the nationality laws across the Middle East can be dated back to more than 14 years. Since then, most of the Arab countries including Saudi Arabia have fully or partially reformed their nationality laws, said Lina Abou Habib, the executive director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development Action.

Law imposed on Palestine workers restricts them from 20 nominated jobs. Image source: theguardian.com
Law imposed on Palestine workers restricts them from 20 nominated jobs. Image source: theguardian.com

Male politicians in particular, justify the rule of inheritance as they feel “if you reform the law then all Palestinian men will marry Lebanese women and they will never return to Palestine, thereby taking away the right of Palestinian refugees to return home,” Abou Habib said.

There are about 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Lebanon, according to the estimation done by The United Nations. They enjoy only limited rights- cannot own properties and are even barred from working in 20 nominated professions.

While many people in the nation are dealing with identity crisis, opponents argue that Lebanon law is valid as it maintains a delicate religious balance between Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ite and Druze. Opponents feel that if the women gain nationality rights, it would mean Muslims might further outnumber Christians, which will threaten the existence of Christians in Lebanon.

With the crisis in Syria now entering its sixth year, Syrian refugees are making up one-quarter of Lebanon’s population. Few also argue if women have the right to nationality, Syrian men will marry Lebanese women and will never return to Syria.

Activists, including Abou Habib interviewed for this story and have rejected the arguments and termed them as racists. He feels that these people who support this kind of law are exploiting sectarian fears in order to deny women their rights.

“There is no link between women’s nationality and the issue of Palestine or the country’s religious make-up or the Syrian crisis. At the end of the day, what is true is that the state does not recognize women as citizens,” she added.

In 1925, under the French Mandate of Lebanon, the law was issued which states that a person will only be considered Lebanese if born to a Lebanese father.

The Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Gebran Bassil who leads Christian party- The Free Patriotic Movement, has voiced some of the loudest opposition to the reform of Lebanon’s nationality laws. He sponsored a bill in November 2015 that would grant citizenship to Lebanese expatriates but not to the spouses of Lebanese women. (Reuters)

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Climate Activists Unite and Support Greta Thunberg Against Her Climate Change Fight

Activists Cheer for Thunberg, Urge Climate Action in Madrid

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Climate activist Greta Thunberg
Greta Thunberg a is a young climate activist from Sweden. Wikimedia Commons

Activists of all ages and from all corners of the planet demanded concrete action Friday against climate change from leaders and negotiators at a global summit in Madrid.

A march was led by dozens of representatives of Latin America’s indigenous peoples — a mark of deference after anti-government protests in Chile, the original host of the summit, resulted in the talks suddenly being moved to Europe for the third year in a row.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg declared from a stage that “change is not going to come from the people in power, it’s going to come from the masses.” A crowd of thousands responded, chanting, “Greta! Greta!”

Organizers said 500,000 people turned out for the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 15,000 without an immediate explanation for the disparity in the count.

The Swedish teen was followed on her first day in Madrid by a swarm of cameras and reporters, as well as curious members of the public wanting to take video of her on their smartphones, from the very first step she took out of an overnight train from Lisbon.

Spain Thunberg Climate Talks
Climate activist Greta Thunberg, center, talks with other climate activists youth at the COP25 climate talks summit in Madrid. VOA

Critical banner

Two young activists earned cheers as they abseiled from a bridge and strung out a banner saying: “Just 8 years till 1.5 degrees C. HOW DARE YOU?” — a reference to scientists’ forecasts of rising temperatures and what activists complain is a lack of a convincing political response to the threat.

The crush as people tried to get a glimpse of Thunberg led her to pull out shortly after the start of the march, saying police had advised her to leave for safety’s sake, and she climbed into an electric car.

A Madrid police spokeswoman who spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn’t authorized to be named in media reports said that it had only been “suggested” that Thunberg leave after she appeared “overwhelmed” by the attention and that police never ordered the activist to abandon on safety grounds.

Earlier in the day, the 16-year-old had said at a press conference that calls for real action against climate change were still being “ignored” by political leaders despite their continuous praise of the global environmental youth movement she helped create.

Thunberg hoped the COP25 summit would lead to “something concrete” and “increasing awareness among people in general,” but she said that after more than one year of student strikes, “still basically nothing has happened.”

Spain Climate Talks
Demonstrators march to demand world leaders take real action against climate change, during a protest in Madrid. VOA

“The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power,” she added.

Carbon market rules, compensation

During the December 2-13 talks, nearly 200 countries are meant to streamline the rules on global carbon markets and agree on how poor countries should be compensated for destruction largely caused by emissions from rich nations.

An official directly involved in the negotiations said that despite a few setbacks, the technical negotiations were progressing, although many issues were being left for ministerial-level meetings in the summit’s second and final week.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the discussions, added that a political declaration on greater “ambition” — a buzzword at the summit — was shaping up to be “difficult to achieve.”

“A summit that doesn’t end with enhanced ambition would be something that nobody would understand if we take into account what the streets and science are telling us,” the official said.

The talks came as evidence mounts about disasters that could ensue from further global warming, including a study published Friday predicting that unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism.

The study commissioned by 14 nations whose economies rely heavily on the sea says climate change could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050, adding that limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries, but that they also need to adapt to ocean changes.

Leaders ‘afraid of the change’

Demands for greater action by nongovernmental organizations and a whole new generation of environment-minded activists were expected to take the spotlight with the presence of Thunberg in Madrid.

Past appearances have won her plaudits from some leaders and criticism from others who’ve taken offense at the angry tone of her speeches.

Asked about the skepticism on global efforts to fight the warming temperatures expressed by some world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, she said: “Some people want everything to continue like now. They are afraid of the change that we, the youth, are bringing.”

People attend a climate change protest march, as COP25 climate summit is held in Madrid, Spain. VOA

“They try so desperately to silence us,” she added.

Next to her, Vanessa Nakate, a 22-year-old member of Uganda’s chapter of Fridays for Future, said that young activists don’t want more promises.

“We are tired of the praises that you keep giving the activists,” she said. ”We want you to act.”

During a brief visit to the summit venue earlier Friday, Thunberg did not appear unsettled by the commotion surrounding her presence.

“It’s absurd. I laugh at it. I do not understand why it has become like this,“ she was quoted as saying by Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.

“I don’t like being at the center of the focus all the time, but this is a good thing,” she told Aftonbladet. “As soon as the media writes about me, they also have to write about the climate crisis. If this is a way to write about the climate crisis, then I guess it is good.”

American participation

Separately Friday, an alliance of American states, cities, academic institutions and companies opened its own venue at the U.N. climate talks, aiming to show that despite the federal administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris accord, many Americans remain committed to the treaty’s goal of curbing global warming.

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Elan Strait, who manages the “We Are Still In“ initiative for the environmental group World Wildlife Fund, said the movement is “a short-term band-aid not only to get those carbon dioxide emissions down but also to encourage policymakers to lay the ground for further achievements.

Over 3,800 organizations and corporations representing 70% of U.S. economic output have joined the coalition, organizers claim, amounting to roughly half of the country’s emissions. (VOA)