Lebanese women hail first female Arab interior minister

Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan, the first Arab woman to become in charge of a security ministry, attends the first meeting of the Lebanese cabinet at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. (AP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Lebanese women hail first female Arab interior minister

  • Though Lebanon is widely held to be liberal by regional standards, with women playing a prominent role in public life, some of its laws continue to uphold a patriarchal social code

BEIRUT: Lebanon has appointed the Arab world’s first female interior minister in its new government, prising open a wider foothold for women in its overwhelmingly male political scene.
Raya Al-Hassan is one of four women to take Cabinet jobs in the new coalition, more than ever before in Lebanon and three more than in the last government, in which even the minister for women was a man.
Though Hassan has already held top jobs — including finance minister in 2009-2011 — her appointment to a portfolio managing security was hailed as a step forward for women in Lebanese politics.
“This is a point of pride for all women and all the people who believe in women’s capabilities,” Hassan said.
“There are a lot of female interior and defense ministers in the world and they have proved their efficiency. It might be a new phenomenon for Lebanon and Arab countries, but hopefully it will be repeated and not be unique,” she added.
The three other women in the 30-strong Cabinet are in charge of energy, administrative development and the economic empowerment of women and young people.
Though Lebanon is widely held to be liberal by regional standards, with women playing a prominent role in public life, some of its laws continue to uphold a patriarchal social code.
Many of Lebanon’s civil laws, including personal status matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance, are applied according to religious sect and in some cases treats women differently than men. Lebanon has 17 recognized Muslim and Christian sects.
In 2017 the Parliament abolished an old law that absolved rapists if they married their victims. But marital rape and child marriage are still legal.


Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 40 min 18 sec ago
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Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Arab states on Monday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Breaking decades of international consensus, Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.