Protection available to offspring of interfaith marriages whose decision to follow Christianity instead of Islam results in death threats from various family members [LBN36719.E]

A professor at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration in the American University of Beirut and author of Inside of the Lebanese Confessional Mind, Partner or Pariah? Attitudes Toward Israel in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan and Arabs at the Crossroads gave the following information to the Research Directorate on 9 May 2001 and 14 May 2001.

It is possible that in Lebanese rural areas offspring of interfaith marriages whose decision to follow Christianity instead of Islam results in death threats from various family members (9 May 2001). In such cases, the person does not receive protection from the state: Lebanon is a "sectarian country and each sect is in control of its own members including, for example, marriage, inheritance, etc." (ibid.). If people receive death threats as a result of their decision to choose Christianity, the state will not interfere because the matter will be perceived as being religious (14 May 2001).

The following information was provided to the Research Directorate on 17 May 2001 by the Managing Director of the Lebanese Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Rights:

The Lebanese Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion. So far there is nothing unique as almost all constitutions use what in many cases is nothing more than a cliché. Lebanon goes beyond the rhetoric to provide substance to this right. The bill on "Registration of Personal Status Documents," passed by the Lebanese Parliament in 1951, treats all recognized religions on par and provides recognition and full protection of the exercise of freedom of conscience.
On the social level things are slightly different. As in all societies, any deviation of the normative standard behavior is met with reactions ranging from frowning at, at one end of the spectrum, to brutal acts, including blood letting, on the other end. In Lebanon, while the negative non lethal attitude abounds, the other extreme reactions are rare and sporadic, and almost entirely restricted to some remote rural areas.

The Managing Director suggested that it is necessary to inquire "about the part of Lebanon from which the applicants originate and where their place of residence is located. This determines more than anything else the kind and degree of reaction to the change of religion [that] is to be anticipated" (ibid.).

For further information on religious practices in Lebanon, please see the Department of State Annual Report on International Religious Freedom 2000.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Managing Direcor, Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights, Beirut. 17 May 2001. Correspondence.

Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, American University of Beirut, Lebanon. 14 May 2001. Correspondence.

_____. 9 May 2001. Correspondence.

Sources Consulted

Arabies [Paris].

IRB Databases

Middle East International [Londres/New York].

Middle East Report [Washington].

Mideast Mirror [Londres].

Monde arabe Maghreb-Machrek [Paris].

The Lebanon Report [Beirut].

The Middle East [Londres].


Four sources did not respond to information requests.

Internet sources including:

Amnesty International

Arab Human Rights

Association libanaise des droits de l'homme

Center for Lebanese Studies at Oxford


Foundation for Human Rights and Humanitarian Rights in Lebanon

Home Office - Immigration and Nationality Directorate

Human Rights Watch

International Interfaith Center

Islamic Christian Dialogue - Hiwar.Net

Lebanese NGO Forum

Middle East Intelligence Bulletin

Minorities at Risk Project

The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies

United States Committee for a Free Lebanon

World Council of Churches Interreligions Relations

Search Engines including: