(L-R) Youssef Issa’s daughter Riham Issa; nephews Nidal and Thaer Issa; sister-in-law Malak Harb; wife Mona Issa; and Youssef Issa. (Daily Star / Antoine Abou-Diwan)
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Stateless Lebanese face obstacles and few optionsSitting outside his deceased mother's home, Youssef Issa spoke about his grandfather with resignation. In Lebanon, citizenship can only be passed down through the paternal line of the family, a law that the government maintains will preserve the nation's fragile sectarian balance.While Parliament has recently approved a law which grants citizenship to foreigners of Lebanese ancestry – under the condition that it's traced from the paternal line of the family – the legislation does little to help people like Issa who have been born and raised on Lebanese territory.A handwritten document from the mukhtar of Hebbarieh – Issa's ancestral village – attests to Issa's identity and place of origin.But in the eyes of the law, he and his family are not Lebanese. While 46 of those who received the nationally had been stateless, Chebbo insists that more children will grow up this way unless Lebanon grants women the fundamental rights they deserve.
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