BEIRUT: Labor Minister Butros Harb has authored a draft law that would prevent Christians and Muslims from selling property to each other for a period of 15 years, in order to “safeguard national coexistence.”
In the draft legislation, Harb cited fears that the demographic balance in Lebanon would be affected by a recent, “quasi-organized” trend in land sales from members of one religion to another.
The seven-article draft, which covers both built and non-built properties, says it respects the statutes of the Foreign Property Ownership Law and the legislation governing inheritance by various sects. Harb’s draft says that while private property rights and the principle of a free economy is enshrined in the Constitution, such notions are “not absolute.”
An informed source told The Daily Star that Harb was responding to a worrying rise in land sales across sects, which has led to significant demographic changes in traditionally Christian-majority areas.
The source expected that the proposal, which will be submitted to the Cabinet for deliberation, would be attacked by various sides as a sectarian move.
However, the source added, the Maronite Church and the Maronite League have been active of late, warning about the phenomenon of land sales and making attempts to reverse recent transactions. Some of the sales have involved property that has a dubious legal basis to begin with, since it is located on church-owned land.
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)