Friday, 18 June 2010


Lebanon MPs debate refugee rights amidst Christian paranoia

  • Friday, 18 June 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • Two days ago, the Lebanese parliament tabled a proposal to offer basic rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. The proposed legislation - the subject of a heated debate on Tuesday - would allow Palestinian refugees to work and own property in Lebanon. Nabih Berri, the parliament speaker, referred the bill to a committee for a one-month review. The proposed legislation was endorsed by both Walid Jumblatt and Saad Al-Harriri and falls in line with Hezbollah's Manifesto, announced in December of last year.

    The Christian forces in parliament, namely the Phalanges (Kata'ib) and the Lebanese Forces rejected the proposal and opposed it warning that it was a first step towards naturalising Lebanon's refugee population - something Michel Aoun wouldn't say, but his followers obviously endorse.

    Lebanese Parliament [source]

    Comparing between Armenian refugees who fled to Lebanon and were naturalised and Palestinian refugees who continue to suffer persecution and a total lack of civil and economic rights driven by Christian paranoia, one reader (from an internet forum - commented saying:

    "Unbelievable! Sectarianism at it again; Christians foolish paranoia is fucking sick. This country should either grant the Palestinians (whom most of them are born and raised in Lebanon) their full rights or naturalize them. Why the hell were the Armenians naturalized in this country? Ahh only to manage the 'sectarian balance' of this nauseating country. Now since we are living under a sectarian and consensus government this proposed law will find its way up onto the roof and vanish."

    In response, another comment read:

    "Yes lets give them their right's, the average Lebanese cant find a job or afford to buy a house the government cant provide the lebanese with decent living standards and you want us to help the Palestinians. All that the Arabs and Muslims are good for is crying on TV but when push comes to shove they wont do shit to help them and we cant provide for 400,000 Palestinians. They would amount to 12% of the population.
    The Palestinians will never be allowed to own property in Lebanon and if you dont like it rou7 de2 rasak bill haiet (trans. go hit your head against the wall)"

    This latter comment remind me of Khalid Saghiyeh's article in Al-Akhbar published yesterday - I blogged about it last night. In his article, he comments on the parliamentary intervention of a Free Patriotic Movement MP (Gilberte Zouein). In a discussion of the proposed law, Zouein - perhaps not knowing - unveiled the Christian paranoia kept undercover by General Michel Aoun's smart, informed and sincere desire to bridge differences and build bridges. In her speech, Zoein stratified human rights - like a colonialist would - putting the state first, followed by the Lebanese man, the Lebanese woman, the Lebanese child, and then anyone else's rights may be discussed.

    In a sarcastic response to Mrs. Zouein, Saghiyeh wrote "Zouein is not looking for a civil state. She wants to keep the sects' game running and her constant nagging about her status as a minority, on the condition that she can persecute the Palestinians and perhaps hit "the maid""

    To me, it seems clear again - even arch-enemies and staunch foes Hezbollah and the Future Movement can find common ground when discussing the civil and economic rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, but Christians on both sides of the March 14 and March 8 camps remain captives of their own self-creations, the paranoia of losing their long-gone and unfounded majority status based on a questionable and incontestable [1932] census that will become a century-old very soon. For Christians, their self-created fear of becoming a minority in a majoritarian society and the imagined implications reveal all forms of paranoias and unveil racism, superiority complexes and deep-rooted isolationism.

    This harsh criticism I launch against "political Maronitism" must not however be taken cover for isolationists amongst other sects. Indeed, nor should it conceal the hypocrisies and double standards of the business oligarchy that rules Lebanon - be it the Harriri establishment, El-Murr, the Gemayels or anyone else who is a shareholder in the national farm that is called "The Lebanese Republic."

    Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon [source]

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