A controversial decree granting citizenship to 375 foreigners has sent ripples across Lebanon in the last 48 hours after news emerged that President Michel Aoun signed the resolution along with Prime Minister designate Saad al-Hariri and caretaker Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouq.
While government officials kept silent, civil societies and activists took to social media to vent their anger and criticism.
The decree, which was riddled with accusations of bribery, grants Lebanese citizenship to affluent applicants including Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis and Iranian nationals.
While MP Nadim Gemayel from Kataeb party was the first to announce the list of the names of those included in the presidential decree of naturalization, there was conflicting information as to whether the decree had already been signed.
In an interview with Al Arabiya news channel, MP Gemayel confirmed the signing of the decree according to sources close to the presidential palace.
Aoun’s office has yet to comment on the matter, with sources telling Annahar newspaper that the decree might have been drafted before the May 6 elections while the Cabinet was still fully operational. Both Hariri and Mashnouq have also refrained from commenting up to this point.
But the caretaker Justice minister Salim Jreissati confirmed in a statement Friday the signing of the decree which sent waves of shocks to a lot of Lebanese citizens especially Lebanese women married to foreigners who cannot grant citizenship to their children due to religious considerations and others related to the issue of settling the Palestinians.
These development draws a lot of questions whether if the law grants the Minister of the Interior, the President of the Republic with the approval of a majority of ministers, a naturalization decree.
The question now is about the “category” that has been naturalized, especially if it is true that they are rumored to be financiers who have paid about $ 200,000. If that is true the Lebanese are asking on social media: “Where did all that money go and in whose pocket it ended up?”