Monday January 22, 2018

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
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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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Palestine envoy recalled after India’s strong protest

"This prompt action by the Palestinian government will go a long way in improving India-Palestine ties and further cooperation", and "the immediate dialogue and resolution of the crisis is truly appreciated by both the people of India and Palestine."

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Palestine moved towards peace with India. Wikimedia Commons
Palestine moved towards peace with India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Palestine recalled its envoy after strong protest from India, pointing out, it highly values its relationship with the country.
  • It also expressed deep regrets over the recent happenings.

Palestine on Saturday recalled its envoy to Pakistan for sharing the stage with 26/11 terror attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed, with President Mahmoud Abbas directly intervening to order the recall after India strongly protested the envoy’s action as “unacceptable”.

“Palestine is keen to maintain good relations with friendly India and supports it for the efforts in its fight against terrorism,” the Palestine Foreign Office spokesperson said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine in a statement however clarified that the “participation of our envoy in a mass solidarity rally with Jerusalem, held in Rawalpindi on Friday, and in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified.

“Accordingly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates under the direct instructions of the President of the State of Palestine to recall the Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan immediately,” it said.

On Friday, Ali, stood with Hafiz Saeed at a rally called to condemn the US recognising Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv, as Israel’s capital. The rally was called by Difa-e-Pakistan Council, a coalition of more than 40 Islamist parties. Saeed is also a key leader of this coalition.

After photographs of the event went viral on the social media, India took up the issue strongly with the Palestinian authorities, who expressed “deep regret” over the incident.

Palestine expressed regret regarding the incidents which took place.eurasiareview
Palestine expressed regret regarding the incidents which took place. eurasiareview

“Government of India has strongly conveyed to the Palestinian side that the Palestinian Ambassador in Pakistan’s association with terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who is prescribed by the UN, is unacceptable,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“The concerns were conveyed both in New Delhi to the Palestinian Ambassador and in Ramallah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates,” it said.

“The Palestinian side has conveyed deep regrets over the incident and assured the Government of India that they are taking serious cognizance of their Ambassador’s presence at this event. They have said they will deal with this matter appropriately.”

Palestinian Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Al Haij said: “We are supporting India in its fight against terrorism and because of that my government decided to directly call our ambassador to go back home, not to be Palestine ambassador to Pakistan anymore.”

The action of the Palestinian envoy in Pakistan came days after India voted with the rest of the world in favour of an Arab resolution in the UN General Assembly rejecting US President Donald Trump’s decision recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestine wants to maintain healthy relationship with India.
Palestine wants to maintain a healthy relationship with India.

According to the External Affairs Ministry statement, Palestine has also conveyed that it “highly values its relationship with India and stands with us in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India”.

“We take note of the assurances given by the Palestine side,” the statement added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Palestine also expressed appreciation for the “honorable position that India has taken by voting in favor of the resolution in the United Nation General Assembly last week”.

The India-Palestine Solidarity Front (IPSF) in New Delhi strongly condemned the Palestinian envoy’s dais sharing with Saeed and later appreciated the prompt action by President Mahmoud Abbas to recall Ali.

“We appreciate the prompt action by President Mahmoud Abbas, the Government of Palestine, to recall (Ali) for having attended a meeting convened by LeT Chief Hafeez Saeed, an internationally reviled and known hardcore terrorist,” said IPSF.

“This prompt action by the Palestinian government will go a long way in improving India-Palestine ties and further cooperation”, and “the immediate dialogue and resolution of the crisis is truly appreciated by both the people of India and Palestine”, it said.

The rich historical legacy bequeathed upon our nation by Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh and the stalwarts of our freedom struggle, the respect, and adulation for the great Yasser Arafat, lives on in our collective memory. IANS