Thursday, February 12, 2009

A small victory against sectarianism

The Minister of the Interior in Lebanon issued a circular that said Lebanese people will not be required to state their religious (or "sectarian") affiliation in their statements of civil status, and will be allowed to change or delete any such statements already made and registered. The Minister said this is in accordance with the freedom of religion provision in the Lebanese Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a number of other international agreements to which Lebanon is a party. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar calls this a historic step, and the fruition of 20 years of activism by a number of civic groups opposed to sectarianism, and the writer adds:
...this establishes the foundations of the civil state which is the dream of many Lebanese, and [it establishes] a test of the degree of seriousness of Lebanese in proceeding along these lines.
The Iraqi paper Azzaman reports the move at the top of its front page as well, calling attention to the same point about freedom of religion as a basis for not including sect or religion in the statement of civil status. (The journalist doesn't tell us what Iraqi laws and practice are in this regard).


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