After her first visit to Lebanon in 2015 to promote her Lebanese-inspired film, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Salma Hayek had some bones to pick with the Lebanese government.
During an interview with Husam Asi, a producer/presenter at BBC Arabic, Salma Hayek, being half Lebanese herself, seized the opportunity to express her pain about discriminatory laws against women in Lebanon.
She specifically criticized the fact that- to her bewilderment -Lebanese mothers are not allowed to give their children the Lebanese nationality, unlike the fathers.
“This is the only thing that is still painful,” she said, “because we are as Lebanese as the men are,” she went on to point out a very important fact that makes a world of sense…
With a smirk, she said, “By the way. We don’t even know if they (the children) are really the children of the man- maybe they are not Lebanese. But the children of the women- for sure they’re Lebanese.”
The point is made, as was once made by an ancient Arab sage who was asked by a guest, “Are these your children?” And he to answer, “They are… if their mother has been truthful.”
The statement became an adage to affirm that children are factually and unarguable the children of their mothers. That is, however, far from what the laws in Lebanon consider. Whether for children’s custody in divorces or for their citizenship, only fathers have rights, for being men.
In the interview, Hayek had to keep herself from getting carried away with the topic, as the purpose of the interview was to promote her work. However, she is seen visibly passionate about the issue.
Until this day, there has been no progress in reforming Lebanese nationality laws that discriminate against women. Not only are Lebanese women unable to pass on the nationality to their children, but also to their spouses.
In that, these laws reject the national identity itself of Lebanese women, including their DNA, if a Lebanese man is not in the equation, and harmfully prejudice mothers and their role as of no value to their children if the man seeks to divorce.
Hayek, who has the Lebanese flag in her bio on Instagram, has been quite outspoken about that issue and about her Lebanese roots.
In a media conference, she said that she gets angry whenever anyone asks if she likes Lebanese food.
She grew up Lebanese and she’s been eating Lebanese food since she was born, she explained. “I probably ate kibbeh before tacos!”