Amal Alamuddin Clooney, Lebanon's superstar human rights lawyer, is pregnant with twins.
A friend of the British-Lebanese lawyer, who was born in Beirut, and her Hollywood actor husband George Clooney, confirmed that the superstar couple are expecting not one, but two bundles of joy.
Lebanese and other Arabs have not held back in showing their pride in Amal, but the unfortunate reality is that, the Clooney twins won't legally be Lebanese. Due to a nearly century old law, Lebanese women are not allowed to pass on citizenship to their spouses or children.
The Clooney twins will, of course, be born with British and American citizenship via their parents, and they won't exactly have a need for Lebanese as well. But it seems somewhat bizarre that one of Lebanon's most prominent and high profile citizens will in fact, not legally be able to pass on her nationality to her children.
More than 77,000 Lebanese find themselves in a similar situation, according to a 2009 study reported by Reuters. Although Amal Clooney lives abroad, there are numerous examples of Lebanese women who raise their children in Lebanon and yet cannot legally call their children Lebanese.
This means their children cannot access public education or public health. They also cannot legally work in Lebanon without a work permit, the same as if they were foreigners. It's also nearly impossible to pass on family property.
The problem isn't unique to Lebanon. Many other Arab countries have had or currently still have similar citizenship laws. But, as many countries, including Saudi Arabia, have moved towards reforming these laws, Lebanon has not.
"Although Lebanon boasts of being way more liberal than other Arab countries, it has not yet done any reform in this area," the Executive Director of the Collective for Research and Training on Development Action, Lina Abou Habib, told Reuters.
She explained that politicians argue that Palestinian and Syrian refugees would marry Lebanese women to gain citizenship. This would discourage them from returning home – if that ever became possible – and also would upset the sectarian balance in Lebanon, according to their logic.
But Abou Habib rejects this completely, calling it racist. She and other activists say these arguments are made to exploit sectarian tensions to deny women a very basic right.
"There is no link between women's nationality and the issue of Palestine or the country's religious make-up or the Syrian crisis," she said. "At the end of the day, what is true is that the state does not recognize women as citizens."