Rahi Says Naturalization Decree Must Be ‘Revoked’
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Monday called for the annulment of a controversial naturalization decree granting Lebanese nationality to “suspicious names” that “dishonor” the Lebanese nationality.
“We demand Lebanese official to revoke the naturalization decree because it disturbs people’s confidence, and because it was issued by mistake listing suspicious names that do not honor the Lebanese nationality,” said Rahi at the opening of the Holy Synod.
Lebanese politicians and ordinary citizens alike are fuming over a secretive presidential decree granting nationality to dozens of people, allegedly including Syrian investors close to the Damascus regime.
Critics have slammed the secrecy surrounding the move and say it adds insult to injury for thousands unable to acquire nationality because they were born to Lebanese mothers and foreign fathers.
It was reportedly issued on May 11 after being signed by President Michel Aoun, but news of its existence only emerged lately when dozens of names allegedly included in the edict were leaked to the media.
It prompted a wave of public outrage, with Lebanese officials scrambling to defend themselves or defect blame.
The president's office confirmed the decree's existence, but said it had submitted the names to the General Security agency to verify they all have "the right" to become Lebanese.
Lebanese media reported it may include as many as 300 people, including businessmen known to be close to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.