Suleiman Agrees to Withdraw Lebanese Nationalities from Individuals ‘Who Don’t Deserve it’

President Michel Suleiman approved on Friday a decree to withdraw the Lebanese nationality from individuals who received it and who later turned out that they don’t deserve it, reported the daily An Nahar Saturday.

Informed sources told the daily that the number of people included in the decision does not exceed 200, adding that they are only part of the first phase of individuals whose nationalities will be withdrawn.

“Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati approved the decree after easing some reservations voiced by some official and political sides,” they said without elaboration.

The withdrawal of nationality mainly includes Palestinians and Syrians, with the first phase of withdrawals only encompassing Christians, they revealed.

The development came in light of a 2003 State Council decree, issued at the behest of the Maronite League, that agreed to reconsider the naturalization of foreigners that was signed by late President Elias Hrawi in 1994.

An Nahar reported that the president had expressed regret over signing the 1994 decree.

The State Council had said at the time that the decision to grant the nationalities to foreigners should be reconsidered because they were granted through “dishonest and unconstitutional ways.”

“The decision was not ratified until now because of great political tensions that surrounded it even though it did create an imbalance in Lebanon’s demographics because it was employed for sectarian purposes,” added the daily.

The Lebanese nationality was granted to individuals from 80 countries, with Syrians comprising the bulk of them.

An Nahar revealed that 65,734 Syrians, 2,182 Jordanians, 1,499 Iraqis, 756 Iranians, 496 Frenchmen, 155 Americans, and three Chinese nationals were granted the Lebanese nationality.

A total of 32,564 individuals’ requests were still being studied, while 14,112 individuals’ original nationalities have not been disclosed.

A total of 159,011 Muslims, 43,516 Christians, two Jews, and a Sikh were granted the nationality An Nahar added.

State Council sources told As Safir in remarks published on Saturday that the first phase of individuals whose Lebanese nationality was withdrawn mainly includes Palestinians who were given the nationality because of a mistake committed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

“They received the nationality through an unconstitutional way because the naturalization of Palestinians violates the constitution,” they added.

“The other Palestinians whose Lebanese nationality was withdrawn obtained it through false documents,” they revealed.

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