Their Human Rights & Ours
Their Human Rights & Ours
Tuesday, August 5,2008 10:14
By Hassan Haidar

After a certain period of time, residents in European states are offered citizenship and full citizenship rights regardless of their color, ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation, and only as long as they are not accused of terrorism or organized crime or charged with violating public laws. During the waiting period for the citizenship, the resident and his family enjoy all services provided to natives, such as education, healthcare and others. Even if after naturalization some were found to be supportive of or involved in violence or extremism, taking the citizenship away from them remains out of question except for some rare and extreme cases that still raise a lot of controversy and provoke human rights associations. This is not to mention that the civil rights of the individual are not lost even in such cases. Residing and working in any country is considered a contribution, even if modest, to the economic and social progress of the host country, a service in return of which the resident deserves to be granted the citizenship.

 

On the other hand, in our Arab world where some nations boast some of the world"s highest per capita incomes and others gloat over their level of civility, the minimum level of rights for residents and even for some citizens remains lacking.

 

A few days ago, scores of Lebanese women married to foreigners organized a demonstration to demand their rights for full citizenship, that is, the right to grant the citizenship to their children, most of whom were born and raised in Lebanon, and to their husbands, just like any other citizen in any country that claims respect for human rights. Ironically, every Lebanese official insists on associating this claim with his country whenever there is a chance to do so in front of the media.

 

However, the culminating debate among the ministers of the newborn government over the role of the resistance and the state, the arms on the inside and the outside, the relationship with Syria, the demarcation of borders, and the fate of Shebaa Farms and Kfar Chouba Hills, and so forth, has apparently deafened the officials to the screams and demands of those women since little would change anyway. After all, the children of those protesting women are most likely to grow up and join the queues of immigration seekers in front of foreign embassies. Why should they care for the citizenship since they will be trying to get "another one" anyway?

 

By "another one," I am referring to the Comoros whose parliament refused to grant the citizenship to thousands of al-Badoun who reside in the Gulf States with no citizenship. Most of them were born in the state of residence as probably did their parents, served in its institutions and perhaps in its army but without enjoying any rights, not even a card that protects them from the permanent threat of deportation.

 

If this is the case of citizens and decade-long residents, would it be surprising that laborers and Asian expatriates would suffer all the discrimination and repression that border on slavery?

 

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