Regarding the latest presidential naturalisation decree: Talk about a memorable exit!

Mon, 06/30/2014

The latest naturalisation decree signed by former President Michel Sleiman during the last week of his mandate and which gifted 640 individuals with Lebanese nationality was received with much criticism by all concerned. My Nationality is a Right for me and my Family campaign organised a sit-in to protest this action on June 25th after addressing an open letter to the ex-President on May 22th indicating its refusal of this action and noting that the decision has contradicted all the arguments put forward in the past by politicians to block any reform of the nationality law namely fear of Palestinians naturalisation and the confessional demographic balance.

The Campaign considered this decree to be largely dictated by narrow personal and confessional considerations. For more on the open letter and the sit-in, check the following links:,

A thorough review of the names who were granted Lebanese nationality, reveals various members of the Syrian opposition, Palestinians, individuals from 31 different nationalities, and a number of stateless persons. It is to be noted that the decree was released secretly on the eve of May 19th, and bears the signature of the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior.

Amongst other reactions to that decree was that of lawyer Ibrahim Awada who filed a legal proceeding on June 20th requesting the annulment of the decree. In his legal suit, Awada stated that granting nationality to non-deserving individuals of 31 different nationalities including members of the Syrian opposition will have serious negative impact on Lebanon’s politics. In addition, the granting of nationality to foreign businessmen, will undoubtedly affect Lebanon’s political life and finances negatively. In his argumentation, Awada based himself on the same rationale put forward by the Maronite League to request the annulment of the 1994 naturalisation decree.

In fact, the new naturalisation decree raises a number of critical questions which remain unanswered, and of which we highlight the following: “according to which right was nationality accorded to these people?”, “who nominated these people?”, “how and why were Palestinian names included?”, “how was it issued in Lebanese Constitution?”, “what about the fact that the new decree include a distinct majority of a particular sectarian group?” ,“what about its effect on Lebanon’s fragile demographic balance?”.

It is to be recalled that sectarian and confessional divides among politicians have recently blocked deliberations on a law proposal to reinstate Lebanese nationality to immigrants, during the Parliamentary session of May 13th. That particular law proposal was supported by most of the Christian MPs who continue to object strongly to Lebanese women’s right to grant nationality to their families.

In conclusion, we would like to restate our long standing position that only a state of citizenship and law to which we strive will ensure gender equality and social justice for all regardless of sectarian affiliation and will result in the adoption of a modern, fair and egalitarian Lebanon nationality law.