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Lebanon: Mothers protest, call for right to pass citizenship to children

Lebanese women [Wikipedia]
Lebanese women [Wikipedia]

Hundreds of Lebanese mothers held a sit-in today calling on the government to change the law and allow them to pass on their citizenship to their children.

According to Lebanese law the children of women who are married to foreign men are not eligible for the Lebanese nationality.

Protesting in Riad El-Solh Square in central Beirut ahead of the parliamentary elections which are due to be held on 6 May, the women said: "This right is vested in women, and every candidate will be held accountable through the ballot boxes on polling day."

According to Nadra Daaboul, a member of the coordinating body of the campaign launched in 2011, 70,000 Lebanese women are married to men who are not Lebanese and 100,000 children who should be eligible for citizenship.

Read: Lebanon rejects citizenship for Syrian refugees

"Most of the Lebanese parliamentarians reject our calls under the pretext of demographic imbalance," Daaboul told the Anadolu Agency.

"As a mother I suffered," she said. "I am obliged every three years to renew their [my children's] residency," said May Elian, a campaign volunteer who is married to an Egyptian Christian.

"Not only that; they are denied jobs and free medicines from the ministry [of health] or access to social security."

"It is not true, as it is rumored, that a specific sect (in reference to the Sunnah) constitutes the kebab egg in this equation."

OPINION: Is there a need to reconfigure citizenship in the Middle East?

According to the law issued during the French Mandate of Lebanon in 1925, a citizen is considered Lebanese if he or she is born to a Lebanese father.

Since 2006, women's and civil society organisations have lobbied the Lebanese government to pass a law allowing the Lebanese mother to grant citizenship to her children.

A large number of parliamentarians reject the calls because they fear that it will change the demographics on the ground and increase the percentage of Sunni Muslims in the country.

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