‘My nationality: a right for me and my family’

My Nationality bookletProbably one of the most inspiring campaigns I’ve seen in the Arab world lately is the Lebanese campaign "My nationality: a right for me and my family," which is geared towards pushing for the right of Lebanese women to pass citizenship on to their children. As is the case in a majority of Arab counties:

"According to Article 1 of the Lebanese Domestic Law, only the child born of a Lebanese father" is deemed Lebanese.

While Lebanon acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1997, it placed a reservation on the article that stipulates that "states parties shall grant women equal rights with respect to the nationality of their children." The reservation exempts the government from having to implement the article. Source: [IRIN]

I have discussed this topic on my blog a number of times, primarily because I am personally affected by this sexist law and I just can’t get over it. Apparently, things in Lebanon are somewhat better than Jordan. In particular:

Since 2004, an administrative measure taken by the General Security body in the interior ministry, permits children born of Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers to obtain renewable residence permits every three years free of charge. Before this, such parents had to pay US $200 for a renewable, one-year residency permit for their children. Source: [IRIN]

This is not the case in Jordan. Even a residence permit for children with foreign fathers is not given automatically or free of charge. This campaign is appealing to the Lebanese government and parliament, asserting the full citizenship rights of Lebanese women and calling for the "amendment of the articles deemed discriminatory against women." The issue is controversial, as the primary reason behind this law is political!

"Politicians fear that if women are allowed to pass their nationality onto their husbands, many Palestinians will take advantage of this and start marrying Lebanese women en masse," said Ahmad Halimi of the Popular Aid for Relief and Development NGO that works with Palestinians in Lebanon. Source: [IRIN]

Kudos to the Lebanese for their efforts! Hopefully they will get what they want some day soon and then other Arab countries will follow suit.

12 thoughts on “‘My nationality: a right for me and my family’”

  1. There are several tiers of foreign society in line after you, Natasha. An Indian man was profiled in VIVA last month explaining the difficult feelings after having been raised completely culturally Jordanian and yet being a ‘foreigner’ needing an aqaama.
    My kids were born in Jordan, and it is irritating to me that their Jordanian contemporaries have American citizenship because their mom’s gave birth to them there – but my kids will always need an iqaama. And they moan about not being able to be a President 🙁
    Of course none of this is on par with the dilemma the future Tyne’s kid’s have. May God grant change before they are old enough to have to ponder it themselves.

  2. I think this issue was being discussed a year or so ago but i seem to remember it getting stuck in parliment for the same reason as in Lebanon, except that there they came up with some sort of halfway solution while in Jordan it was dropped (like so many other issues) pending the final solution of the Palestinian issue. I think they also decided that foriegn children of Jordanian women can apply for citizenship which can be granted on an individual basis. Although I might just be imagining all of this!
    Maybe the issue needs to be brought up again with some alternative solutions suggested, like the automatic iqama?

  3. This is an issue we have dealt with for years. My wife is Saudi and she has to get permission to even be married to a foreigner. It used to be, although it has changed, a Saudi woman who marries a foreigner losses her citizenship at the time of marriage. Imagine that. Husbands or even children of Saudi women married to foreigners do not have right to Saudi residence even.
    Now all of this can be avoided, usually with the help of “wasta” (connections) and or a lot of money. Saudi law has recently changed that said the children of Saudi women married to foreigners can be granted citizenship if they are permanent residents in Saudi at the time of their maturity. Two problems here, I don’t think the law defines what age this is. It can vary depending on religious rulings and the like. Second, getting the right for legal residence in the first place. The children also have to be fluent in written and spoken Arabic, something which is hard for many native born Arab speakers.
    I cant stand all of this. It is nothing more than cultural nonsense. It isn’t that we really want our children, one boy and another on the way, to be Saudi citizens, but we would like the right to travel to my wife’s country without all of the hassle. Trust me, as a Saudi married to an American, there is a lot of hassle on many fronts.
    Citizenship needs to be conferred like it is in the USA. None of this tribal/blood based craziness. Everyone born in the USA is a citizen, except those born to the parents of diplomats. That is the only fair way to do it.

  4. “Arabs and Nationalities, hehehe” !! What is so funny Bahreini Girl ? We would like to laugh with you; unfortunately, nothing is working those days im making us laugh loud like before, sorry.

  5. You think you all have it bad, trying being Palestinian!! We don’t even have a nationality!! I lived in saudi for all of my young life, my parens were there for 30 years, but they had citizenship. We always relied on a “temporary” jordanina 2-year passport, but now the jordanian are taking those away from us as well (already took my parents away, who are now in gaza). Then after I got married to my refugee husband-who has a lebanese refugee document, they stamped in my passport that he couldn’t get my same passport-luckily he didn’t need to he was born in the US. And worst of all my husband can’t travel anywhere, or even work in lebanon, or even come here to join me in gaza because he’s a refugee and is not allowed to return nor issued a family re-union permit. So we are roamers and living without anywhere we can really call our permanent residence. Count your blessings folks, believe me! 🙂

  6. Laila,
    Welcome to my blog. I read your blog regularly. I hear ya! No one has it as bad as the Palestinians. I think it is time for Arab countries to shape up and give their citizens some basic human rights.

  7. Alfreda Leafield

    ANY you guys in the Middle East, take a look at the laws in Japan and China and Taiwan and Thailand and Vietnam, as to what happens in Asia when foreigners marry local women or men and have children together. Many countries all over the world treat HALFS in this terrible way, and we should not even use this word HALF for a child of two cultures or nationalties or races or religions but call them DOUBLES instead. Long may the new DOUBLES of our global world enjoy better laws and more freedom to claim their identities!
    This is a major global problem that the UN should address. Mixed children in Japan and other Asian countries have these same problems. Sad.

  8. Hi,
    I saw the post on your blog about the nationality campaign in Lebanon and your thoughts on the issue from a Jordanian perspective and I thought I should write to you and tell you about what we are doing.
    We launched a Nationality campaign web blog in Washington DC last week, http://www.learningpartnership.org/citizenship .
    The blog features six organizations in the Middle East and North Africa (Lebanon and Jordan being two of the countries) which are working towards changing legislation granting equal citizenship rights for women.
    The aim of the blog is to create a network of concerned citizens who want to work together for change and to produce a constant resource for women and human rights activists dedicated to this issue.
    We were impressed with your blog and wonder if we might be able to link our two sites together. So that visitors to our site could see your stories and visitors to your site could see our stories as well.
    Many thanks,

  9. would like to know if someone knows of a Jordanian lady her name before marriage Rehab Sweiss she is married to a Lebanese man named Camile(he was a jeweller0 and was living in Beirut Lebanon and has children she left Amman Jordan about 18 years ago Thankyou if you have info to ruthgordon@wanadoo.fr

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