02/13/2009, 00.00
LEBANON
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Religious affiliation to disappear from Lebanese documents

The change has been ordered in a memo from the Interior Ministry, which makes reference to religious freedom and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During the civil war, thousands of people were killed because of the religion shown on their documents.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Lebanese citizens will be able to remove their religious affiliation from their personal documents and from the civil registry. The decision of interior minister Ziad Baroud is contained in a memorandum published yesterday, which refers to the Constitution and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The idea of eliminating religious identification from documents had been advanced by human rights groups since the time of the civil war (1975-1990), when many people were killed at the checkpoints of the various factions, because of the religious affiliation shown on their identification documents.

The memorandum establishes that in the future, anyone will be able to remove the identification of his faith from all of his documents. It will be replaced with a slash (/). In reality, religious affiliation has not been shown on personal documents issued since the end of the civil war, but it remains obligatory for the civil registries. Now, it can be removed from these.

In the memo, the Interior Ministry refers to article 9 of the Constitution, which establishes freedom of religion. Article B of the introduction to the Constitution confirms adherence to the UN charters and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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