First Published: 2009-02-12

Lebanon moves to tackle religious discrimination

Lebanon dispenses citizens from revealing their religious affiliation on civil registry records.


Middle East Online

Lebanon's Interior Minister Ziad Baroud

BEIRUT - Lebanon's Interior Minister Ziad Baroud issued a memorandum this week dispensing citizens from revealing their religious affiliation on civil registry records.

The memo issued on Wednesday states that in future anyone can cross out their confessional identity from official records and replace it with a slash sign.

Rights groups had been pushing for such a measure since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war when many were killed at roadblocks based on the religion noted on their ID cards.

Although new ID cards issued since the end of the civil war do not mention religious affiliation, it remained obligatory to state one's religion on civil registry records.

Baroud said his decision is in line with the Lebanese constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Religion plays a key role in Lebanon, which has no less than 18 different recognised religious groups.

Tradition holds that the head of state must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.

The 128 seats in parliament are also allocated to represent the different religious groups.


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