This week President Sheikh Khailfa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan issued a decree granting citizenship to almost 1200 children in the UAE who are sons and daughter of foreign fathers.
While North African countries such as Tunisia, Morroco, Algeria and Egypt have amended their laws, women in Lebanon, Iraq, the UAE and other Arab countries are still denied the right to pass their citizenship to their children; only men retain that right.
Ironically, Lebanon prides itself on being the most liberal of Arab countries but still denies women one of their fundamental rights! Husbands and children of Lebanese women are treated as foreigners. They have to apply for residency and work permits, are denied access to free social benefits such as health care, and in case of the children if they marry a non Lebanese citizen they lose their right to reside in Lebanon. All of the political, demographic and socio economic arguments given by politicians do not matter in the face of this systematic discrimination against women’s rights.
The wave of the Arab Spring has yet to hit Lebanon or the issue of citizenship, as spring and mother’s day approaches this year will things be any different?