Being Born to a Lebanese Woman is a Crime…

Posted on 03 November 2009 by

…One Risks to be Deported for.

Khaled, now 21, is born to a Lebanese mother and a Palestinian father registered in Syria. He spent all of his life with his mother in Lebanon. At his coming of age, Khaled turns into a persona non grata in his mother’s homeland. He has not committed any crime, has not violated public order and has not even earned a traffic ticket! Khaled can only remain in Lebanon if he vouches not to work, a matter which is hardly feasible since almost everyone needs to earn a living. Alternatively, Khaled can stay in Lebanon if his employer agrees to register him in the National Social Security Fund, and become his guarantor so he can secure a residency permit and a work permit. All for the meager sum of circa 1,500 USD a year…. One can imagine that employers are not standing in line competing to hire Khaled! Khaled and his mother are thus trying to sort out their paperwork single handedly. This is no easy matter since the administrative labyrinth at General Security was never meant to be citizen-friendly, or, heaven forbid, compliant with any known Human Rights standard!

Lebanon Souvenir Shop (cc) DC Digital Photography

Lebanon Souvenir Shop (cc) DC Digital Photography

Khaled recalls from his recent visit to General Security that “A general security officer was very rude with my mother, he threw my papers back at her. She was in no way inappropriate. He just was rude because he could.”

Khaled is not a unique case. Hundreds of young women and men live in a similar ordeal. Their main crime is being born to Lebanese women who had the misfortune of having children from non-Lebanese men.

By the time you read this story, Khaled might have been deported. He has now reached an impasse. No employer will hire him and declare him. He cannot afford or navigate through the confusing and expensive administrative paperwork and red tape.

Oh but it’s too bad that things are not the other way around. Khaled would have been on top of the world if his father was Lebanese. In this case, he would have been Lebanese no matter what the nationality of his foreign mother would be. In his historical court ruling of 16 June 2009, Lebanese Judge John Azzi said that he is “merely trying to achieve justice and equality between Lebanese women and non-Lebanese women married to Lebanese men”. Notwithstanding the wrath of politicians, and threats to his own career, Judge Azzi and his two young women co-judges ruled in favor of a Lebanese woman married to an Egyptian man and who sued the Lebanese state to be able to grant nationality to her children following the death of her husband. Only one Judge has had the courage to take such a public stance and expose and challenge the injustice and inequality caused by patriarchy and confessionalism in Lebanon.

Khaled and his Lebanese mother, along with hundreds of others like them continue to demand a well overdue just reform of nationality laws in Lebanon.

Support the Women’s Right to Nationality Campaign. Find more on the web or on Facebook.

(cross-posted on Claiming Equal Citizenship campaign site)

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. col brakey Says:

    Hi. I needed to let you know that some elements of your site are tricky to comprehend for me, as I am color blind. I suffer from deuteranopia, but there are other types of color blindness that may also have difficulties. I will read most of the site Okay, and those areas I have issues with I am able to understand by using a custom browser. Neverthless, it would be cool if you can remember us color-blind folk while doing the next site re-working. Many Thanks.

  2. Blog Admin Says:

    Thanks Col.

    We have tried to pick a WordPress theme that works within the W3C Accessibility Guidelines. And as a general best practice, we have tried to stay away from using colors to convey information.

    We will try to do even better in the next round of redesign. Your link containing color blind simulators for testing and the ongoing work on color blind friendly WordPress theme will also help us a lot. Many thanks for those.

    – WLP Blog Admins

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