Hundreds of women marched through the streets of Beirut on Saturday, December 7, 2019, in order to protest against sexual harassment and to demand their rights, which includes granting citizenship to children of Lebanese women who are married to foreigners.
The march began outside the American University of Beirut (AUB), in Hamra, and ended in downtown Beirut, the center of prominent protests and marches for multiple important causes across the last week.
Lebanon’s peaceful protests and demonstrations began across the country last October 17, 2019, and multiple civil and political causes have re-remerged and gained a high profile as a result.
“We want to send a message against sexual harassment. They say that the revolution is a woman, therefore, if there is a revolution, women must be part of it,” said protester Berna Dao. “Women are being raped, their right is being usurped, and they are not able to pass their citizenship [to their children].”
Activists have been campaigning for years now for the Lebanese Parliament to draft a law that allows Lebanese women married to foreigners to give their children and husband Lebanese citizenship. Due to delicate demographic and political tension, this cause has been shelved for years.
During the women’s protest in Riad El-Solh Square, a man set himself on fire before people nearby extinguished the flames and the Lebanese Red Cross was called to take him to the nearest hospital. His motivation for these actions remains quite unclear.
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While the law of citizenship when it comes to Lebanese mothers has been a subject of controversy in Lebanon, it is seen by the world public opinion as irrational and highly discriminatory.
For the Lebanese mothers, it is an outrageous verdict by the political law-makers that their DNA just ceases to be Lebanese once they marry a non-Lebanese man, (although biologically impossible), and that their motherhood isn’t Lebanese unless validated by a marriage to a Lebanese man.
For a country of such a high level of education, it is unrealistic that such a law even exists, let alone such political law-makers are even allowed to rule the fate of so many families.
While protests of civic movements are still ongoing, Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri has appealed from his side to the international community to assist Lebanon in overcoming this difficult economic period, as well as assist in Lebanon’s current import crisis.
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