Liberian-born Lebanese Wants Citizenship Law Revisited

BONG MINES, Bong – A Liberian-born Lebanese businessman, Abraham Farah, is calling on politicians to see reason in passing the dual citizenship bill to give persons like him who were born, schooled, and raised in Liberia citizenship.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Bush Chicken, Farah said the country’s constitution was racist and it would continue to scare people with good intent from investing in the country, especially people like him who were born in Liberia.

“My both parents are Lebanese but I was born in Liberia and lived all my life here but the constitution says one of your parents have to be of Negro descent and it’s not fair for me to be called a foreigner,” Farah said.

“You don’t choose your parents, I did not choose both of my parents to be Lebanese, neither did I choose to be born in Liberia.”

The Constitution states, “In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values, and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.”

The same Constitution also provides that “any person, at least one of whose parents was citizen of Liberia at the time of the person’s birth, shall be a citizen of Liberia; provided that any such person shall upon reaching maturity renounce any other citizenship acquired by virtue of one parent being a citizen of another country. No citizen of the Republic shall be deprived of citizenship or nationality except as provided by law, and no person shall be denied the right to change citizenship or nationality.”

 

Abraham Farah was born and raised in Liberia. Photo: Emmanuel Degleh

Farah was born on October 24, 1964, to a father, John Farah, who was a Lebanese merchant.

A 1982 graduate of the St. Christopher Catholic High School in Kakata, he said the provision in the Liberian constitution has to be changed to meet the present-day reality, as his safety and security are not guaranteed despite being married to a Liberian woman and fathering Liberian children.

“I will not live and get old under this law because, where I have no rights, I will be treated like any other foreigner for which I not a foreigner because I was born here,” he added.

He told The Bush Chicken that his love for Liberia is even reflected in his establishment of an education foundation in honor of his father. The John Farah Education Foundation provides a nursery and primary school for children in the Bong Mines community.

Farah said he establish the school to get children off the street and to keep them busy in a school that will provide a state of the art learning atmosphere.

Farah further disclosed that the school has a computer lab, television to provide visual aid for learning, and a playground.

“It has been my dream for some time, but it really touched when I started seeing kids in the street as soon as 10 a.m., my wife and I decided to undertake this initiative,” he added.

Despite his contribution to society, Farah remains like an outsider, having to renew his work and resident permits every year. He said he knows others in his condition who have decided to leave the country to avoid going through the motion. If nothing is done to change the Liberian citizenship law, he may do the same.

Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel has over a decade of experience working as a community radio broadcaster. He is the Margibi correspondent for the Liberia Broadcasting System and currently the acting president of the Margibi Journalist Association. Emmanuel is also a member of the Press Union of Liberia and a 2016 Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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