Calling Things by Their Names
It’s very beautiful and easy to sell sweet nothings when you are a politician. Yet it’s easier to bullshit people because your family has been in politics for a long time. Generally speaking, every country has its own sociology-religious- ethnic infrastructure but countries like Lebanon are mosaic puzzles of contradictions, inherited colonized mentalities and enshrined demigod political families with adherents who believe they are blue-blooded.
Born in 1936 as an entity under the French mandate after separating from the Turkish Empire slices that were parts of Palestine & Syria; created the three headed monster we know today as the geopolitical mutant known as Lebanon. Armed with nothing but a scratch of the French constitution of 1921, its knowledge for the French language, warlords, and religious leaders; it decided to have a hybrid legal system for governance and personal laws. If you are a westerner reading this, you should know that this is a place where concepts such as citizenship, civil rights, and clarity of legislation and political practices are a figment of a madman’s wildest dreams. Imagine a system with 18 legal systems governing election, appointment to positions in the government and authorities, courts, divorces, marriages, inheritance, and of course public order.
The reason am writing this rant is that a few ago after the charade of the so called election of parliament took place, Decree No 2942 was released to announce that a handful of persons were to become Lebanese by virtue of that decree. I personally have nothing against those people but I detest the bias and the reasons that these people received the citizenship. See there are countries who sell their citizenship for investment reasons, for political asylum, for attraction of brains, for owning patents, and even for gaining recognition for celebrities. But in a country distraught with continuous wars, chaos, corruption, mass-shootings, drive-by shootings, no jobs, no development, no infrastructure, no transparency, no accountability, continuous explosions, assassinations, refugee influx, threat of civil war, and economical sanctions due to involvement with terrorism and financing terrorism; it’s easy to question every single decision the government makes.
Let me walk you through a typical Lebanese mechanism for legislation. First and usually the government who has no whatsoever minister specialized in the domain his ministry operates suggests that a law be passed, then this law is passed by vote in the parliament, then signed by the PM and public in the official gazette via the president’s office. But wait, there’s a catch. See it’s not mentioned in the Lebanese constitution openly(but it is a constitutional custom that is always respected via Ta-if convention) that the President should be Maronite Christian, the PM Muslim Sunni and the Head of Parliament Muslim Shia but it’s practiced since the Ta-if convention post the Lebanese Civil war of 1975 aka Ta-if Constitutional Convention of 1990. Now back to our decree in question. It is by law the right of the Lebanese President to give citizenship to individuals he elects upon the suggestion of the minister of internal affairs and with the signature of the PM. The reason this process is fishy and outdated, is based on the fact that the Ta-if of 1990 convention stated that it is a convention that should be applied on two stages. Stage one where all cabinet and parliament seats should be equally divided between all Muslim & Christian sects provided that the number of seats held by Muslims should be equal to that held by Christians. Stage two, this allocation of seats by sect and number shall dissolve later to become truly free of appointment on the basis of sectarian affiliation. It is worth noting that the seats allocated to all sects were based on the 1932 census because the Ta-if respects the majority of the population so you will read that all voters and elections and seats until today in 2018 are based on 1932 census. What a joke! Cause let’s face it, if they will redo their census the numbers will differ. The Muslim comprise 80% of the population easily. Now wait, am not asking for a Muslim dominance but am going to use this census to answer the grounds for which they gave this decree validity. See in 1925 the constitution gave the President this right to maintain balance and prevent refugees who are not Christian or Lebanese from becoming citizens and affecting the demographics, politics and public image of Lebanon.
Now going back to the so called Decree, let’s see if you can read it cause it’s in Arabic you will see there are many Syrians and Palestinians both nations are refugees in Lebanon. Whether they are loaded with money or not or the fact that 88% of the those who benefited from this Decree are Christian is not the reason I object to that Decree. I object for a very valid alarming and disturbing set of reasons:
1- Till today a Lebanese woman can not give her citizenship to her kids if her husband is a foreigner.
2- A foreigner who marries a Lebanese woman must stay in Lebanon for five consecutive years but this is subject to approval or refusal.
3- If we are to give nationality to a certain individual it should be solemnly based on a law and it should be processed by an agency not a specialized decree left solely in the hands of one person with a formality of consulting or suggestion from another minister for the purpose of keeping the facade of sectarian and ethnic balance.
4- It should be – the decree- published in the official gazette that should be made available for free for the public not too expensive for the public to read. Had we not heard about the decree from a displeased parliament member, these people would’ve become citizens defacto without us even knowing.
5- With all the sanctions on Lebanon and the Stigma of association with radicals and terrorism activities via finance and arms; we do not need more scrutiny and sanction from the international bodies because of regional alliances for certain facts in the cabinet hiding behind their political immunity they cause turmoil in the region.
6- Why are we not enforcing state 2 of the Ta-if and why are we still stuck with no civil marriage and no civil code for rights despite the spike in death tolls for women dying from domestic violence and children suffering from abuse?
7- Before we start looking to give citizenship to people who visit Lebanon every once in a while or do business in Lebanon as it suits them and pleases their regional allies; we should give priority to half Lebanese citizens children of Lebanese women and sadly and loudly I will say Muslim Children because before I decide to give nationality to a Christian Palestinian , I should give priority to my fellow Muslim half Lebanese.
Yes to many this may seem sectarian but isn’t the Decree itself sectarian and Anti women’s rights, Anti transparency, Anti systematic? Am not pro sectarianism but this Decree is blatantly and screamingly and bluntly sectarian and arbitrary. There are thousands of half Lebanese who are in Lebanon studying with no right to be citizens, work, or benefit from the rights a Lebanese has! And trust me many are very qualified, comfortable in life, and very productive and conducive for the Lebanese economy, reputation, and achievements’ record! As a mother of half Lebanese children, I condemn this decree and I find it revolting. I find it a step back into the colonial French mentality era and I find it arbitrary because we are now and as much as I wish to believe and the way I studied an independent Lebanese Republic!!!
What makes me laugh in anger is the hearsay by the president and minister of interior when they said, for the sake of transparency anyone with information about any applicant being undeserving of nationality is welcome to come forward with information to revoke the process. Shouldn’t the process be vetted initially not afterwards? And why this glove of transparency? Do you think this will veil the fact that this process was biased and a special thank you card for the outcome of the election for regional allies? Of course these people are in office and in power and simple people have no say but still it doesn’t make it right! Like I said, nationality should be given via an agency responsible for vetting and delimiting compliance requirements and as per prescribed clear laws in black and white and published in the official gazette for the public to read. Mind you they made the gazette so expensive even the lawyers themselves can’t afford to keep paying for it!
So why are we still enforcing the sectarian rules set by the conqueror to reward the few who were on its side during the occupation! We were not there to hold accountable those who were with the occupation and benefited from it. Those days are long gone but we have the present and the present says: you can’t hide a lie too long and you can’t hide behind your finger all the time!! Yes congratulations to them they have become Lebanese but my deepest condolence for the Lebanese Republic for killing its own values by stepping on its own constitution, ethnicity, and citizens.
This country will never change until we have a civil code, real laws, transparency, accountability and warlords and drug dealers and arm dealers start going to jail instead of going regularly to the parliament to legislate laws that make them richer and more powerful day after day! I salute whoever said “Hamiha Haramiha” ya dakhil bil siyaseh mitl ili dakhil bil knaseh which means: thieves make the laws to protect themselves and what they stole aka they make and run the system for he who enters politics must get dirty like someone stepping into a dustbin!
I feel sad that we’ve been an independent republic since 82 years yet we are still colonized!
To view and download the decree in Arabic visit this page: http://lbdb.co/tejnis.pdf