Lebanon minister vows to expel Swedes if Stockholm deports Lebanese families

Lebanese Labour minister Sij'aan Qazzi,
Lebanese Labour minister Sij’aan Qazzi,

Lebanon’s Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi on Monday warned Sweden of tit-for-tat action if it deports dozens of Lebanese families as part of its reported decision to ask tens of thousands of foreigners to leave the country.

“Qazzi sent a letter to Swedish Ambassador to Lebanon Peter Semneby, asking for clarifications regarding the deportation of a number of Lebanese who are working in Sweden,”  National News Agency reported.

“If this expulsion is unjustified legally and security-wise, the Lebanese Labor Ministry will take similar measures against Swedes working in Lebanon, regardless of their professions and status,” NNA quoted Qazzi as saying in the letter.

“The Labor Ministry rejects that Lebanese citizens be treated in this manner abroad, as if they have no defender or a State that protects them,” the minister stressed.

In this regard, Qazzi has asked the ministry’s relevant departments to provide him with a list of the names of the Swedish citizens who work in Lebanon.

“We will take this measure against any state that does not respect Lebanese employees, unless their presence violates the law or poses a security threat to the host country,” the minister pledged.

Swedish authorities had recently stripped over 75 Lebanese families of medical and social aid cards that had been granted to them by the Swedish state, media reports said. The Lebanese families had traveled to Sweden in the wake of the 2006 war.

According to An Nahar newspaper, the decision has no political motives seeing as the families hail from several Lebanese regions and their religious affiliations are diverse.

Quoting Lebanese diplomatic sources, the newspaper said that the expulsion decision is not limited to Lebanese citizens but is rather part of a judicial decision to deport around 65,000 foreign expats from the country.

Qazzi who represents the   Phalange Party in the cabinet did  not abide by his party’s  June 2016 decision  to resign from Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government.