112 Foreigners Get Lebanese Citizenship. Children of Lebanese Mothers? Nope

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).

Standing Up For A Lebanese Woman Scorned…

We, Lebanese, pride ourselves on how our country is very advanced compared to our neighbors in the region. We brag about how open our people is, how receptive we are of different cultures, how mixed we are internally, how our country is the envy of many, etc…

We also brag about how, compared to other countries in the region, we allow our women to drive (some think it’s a big mistake as well), we allow them to vote, to go wherever they want, etc…

Horrible driving aside, did you know that the requirements for women voting are different from those of men in Lebanon? For a man to vote, he needs to be over 21 and with full rights. For a woman to vote, she needs to have those as well, in addition to finishing up elementary school. Sure, that doesn’t seem like a hurdle in today’s Lebanon where everyone is basically literate (I have no idea about the statistics) but what matters is the thought…

Starting with the basic right we pride our women have, we differentiate against them. Sure, we may have the most gorgeous women on the planet, and the smartest, etc… but what good does that make if our civil rights limit them?

Lebanese women can’t pass on their citizenship to their offspring if they marry a non-Lebanese man. How sick is that? what makes my blood more valuable than theirs? what makes my citizenship more distinguished than theirs?

Why is it that when a Lebanese woman is killed for a crime of honor, the murderer receives a softer sentence than when the same act happens to anyone else?

Why is it that domestic abuse against Lebanese women does not even have a legislation to control or punish it?

Why is it that even in the matters of the family, the ones we believe women are the most important in, they are considered as lesser than men?

There are so many “why”s that can be asked about the state Lebanese women live in today… so on March 8th, International Women’s Day, let us speak up for the grave injustice going on in our country. Let us say that we, as Lebanese men, refuse the upper hand our law gives us because we want our other in the country to be an equivalent other and not a lesser other.

It is the time to speak now…