Lebanese, but not Lebanese
Nationality is conferred on children by their fathers, not their mothers, an inequality that is meeting with increasing resistance in Beirut.
March 11, 2010 9:27 by Katherine Azmeh
“For me, the situation is not problematic, because my husband is British,” one mother explained.
“Children of European or American fathers don’t face the same difficulties as those of Palestinian or Syrian fathers, for example – sometimes these children cannot even attend school,” she added.
Under the current legislation, children born to a foreign father often face costly legal and social difficulties, and are obliged to obtain residency permits, which must be renewed regularly.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1979. The document addresses discriminatory practices against women and outlines an agenda for ending these practices.
While many countries in the region have ratified CEDAW, articles related to the nationality debate have been largely excluded by governments in the region. Issues of inheritance and conflicts with religious law are often cited for the exclusions.
But change is in the air, as governments in the region are increasingly considering amendments to their nationality codes. The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reportedly studying the options for restructuring the country’s nationality legislation. Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria have all adopted legislation that ensures a mother’s right to pass on her citizenship.
In an online petition, the Nationality Law Project is collecting signatures in an effort to pressure lawmakers to overturn Lebanon’s 1925 Nationality Law. The comments of the signees are testament to the complexities of the debate, invoking concerns as diverse as patriotism, cultural belonging, economic opportunity, and family heritage. Lawmakers will have their work cut out for them.
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