There are a lot of injustices that take place in Lebanon daily. For the past few days, it has been the horrid traffic that has overtaken the Lebanese highway due to some serious incompetence – is that a shock? But I daresay a bigger injustice has taken place recently, one that reflects the serious inequality that half of our population goes through daily.
112 people were granted the Lebanese citizenship yesterday via a presidential decree. Many of those 112 people are from Lebanese origin and as such should get the Lebanese citizenship. Others, however, are most probably not as is the case of Mary Fontinato, an Italian.
I have no idea what criteria are employed to grant citizenship to foreigners in Lebanon as I don’t believe there’s a clear path to citizenship here. To be honest, up until yesterday I didn’t know anyone wanted it.
Mary Fontinato, incidentally not the only woman granted the citizenship yesterday, is an odd case indeed because her children – if any – will never be able to have the honor of being Lebanese bestowed upon them like her. Such a bummer, yes I know.
The list of people who were granted Lebanese citizenship also contains many Jordanians. Those of you who have now gotten worried about the country’s fabric, fear not: the sectarian composition of the list is well preserved. For every “Muslim” addition to our country, you’ll find an Italian priest or a French “Francois.” Lebanon is anything but atypical in that regards.
The list of 112 “foreigners” who were granted citizenship does not contain the children of Samira Sweidan, a Lebanese mother who tried for years to get her government to acknowledge the existence of her children. A judge, who ruled in her favor, soon had his ruling overruled by a governmental decree for it being unconstitutional.
Samira Sweidan is one in a sea of Lebanese mothers who cannot pass on their citizenship just because a solution around the Palestinian dilemma has yet to be found. My cousin, an American, recently got married to another American. Her children will never be Lebanese. My other cousin will soon be married to another American – and her children will only know of their mother’s homeland only by name and the occasional visits, if any.
I’d like to think that our president felt a tinge of regret as he signed that decree into effect. I’d like to think our prime minister thought about all the Lebanese women who have been fighting for years to get to where those 112 people got. I guess I’m being too sentimental. Why would anyone who’s American, Australian, Italian, Austrian or any other decent nationality want the Lebanese one is beyond me.
Check out the list of those 112 people here (Arabic link).