Tag Archives: this pressed for your hearts and minds: STATELESS OF LEBANON | Linda Dorigo

this pressed for your hearts and minds: STATELESS OF LEBANON | Linda Dorigo


The offspring of a Lebanese woman who is married to a non-Lebanese man cannot be considered Lebanese citizens. Even if they have been born and raised in the country. These children are Al-Maktum Qaid or “Stateless.” The stateless in Lebanon also consist of Palestinian refugees or descendants of Palestinians who rejected Lebanese citizenship in order to steer clear of military service when the country was under the French mandate in 1932. Unofficial estimates speak of 35,000 women married to foreigners, and a number of stateless that exceeds 100,000 out of a population of almost 4 million.The stateless have no passports, do not have access to public health care and cannot attend public schools. They are also unable to own private property. Even marriage and travel are incredible obstacles. Gender inequality in nationality laws can create statelessness in which children cannot acquire nationality from their fathers, and are forced to live an incomplete life.The Lebanese government has refused to discuss the archaic law, which dates back to 1925. Some critics say this is because a change in numerical terms by one group over another would result in a shift in political representation and the balance of power within the already vulnerable and sectarian-divided government. Granting women the right to pass on citizenship would lead to an increase in the number of Muslims within Lebanon and could possibly open the doors to Palestinian refugees too.Karim is 9 years old. Every 3 years he has to renew his resident visa to remain in Lebanon. He must study at a private school, since he is not allowed to attend public school. He says he would like to become a doctor to help his mother, Nadia, who is paying for his education. His father, who is also stateless and is of Kurdish origin, was born in Lebanon 55 years ago. Ibrahim lives with his mother in the Beqa‘ valley. He never knew his Syrian father because he left the family and never returned home. “I did not grow up with my real father,” he says. “My brothers and I can not even go to Syria because when we were born there was not enough money to register births, marriages and deaths.” Ibrahim went to school for only 4 years. He was engaged once, but she left him because of his social condition. Moustafa is the founder of the independent movement “Our rights group”. He is stateless, married and father of 3 children, who are therefore also stateless. “I started this campaign alone, without money, more or less two years ago,” he explains. “I suffered a lot for my condition. Today we need to be united because the inability to extend the nationality denies not only women their full rights as nationals, but also denies her children their basic rights as human beings. The same happened to Youssef: he is Palestinian, married to Nada, and they have 3 children. He and his wife are engineers, they work together, they have a studio, but officially he is her employee. The family house, cars, and properties belong to Nada because Youssef is not allowed to own anything. “Before opening the studio with Nada, I was project manager and I had 12 engineers under me,” Youssef says. “No one knew my origins, otherwise I would have been forced to leave the job. Our children understand the restrictions, and when they get married, we will be careful to choose the ‘right’ person”. The story of Samira is well known in Lebanon. She was married to an Egyptian man who passed away in 1994. She has 5 children. None are studying at university because education for non-Lebanese is very expensive. In 2009, for the first time in Lebanon, Judge John Azzi granted citizenship to her children, but two days later the government intervened and quashed the decision. Azzi, who was Head of the Court, lost his office and became a lawyer. He wrote his experience in “A Trip of a Lifetime to Nationality”. Many other families pay the consequences of the Lebanese law. Yousra for example is mother of 2 sons. Hani’s father is Jordanian, while Ali’s father is Lebanese. Yousra has been divorced twice. Since Hani, the youngest, has no nationality he cannot go to public school. The family pays $2.000 a year for his education and his residence permit needs to be renewed every 3 years. Lorenzo he is an Italian journalist married to a Lebanese woman. Their 2 sons can apply for Italian IDs but not Lebanese ones. “I did not think this could be a problem,” Lorenzo said “But talking with my wife I felt more involved, and discovered the injustice”.Links: Private Magazine, Cargo Collective

Source: STATELESS OF LEBANON | Linda Dorigo

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