Monday, April 22, 2013

Taxing The Syrian Refugees

A great read by 'A Separate State of Mind'

Self-imposed curfews were not enough for some municipalities in Lebanon when it comes to the growing presence of Syrians in the country and within their bounds.

Some are now considering the possibility of taxing those Syrians as well with amounts that are simply nonsensical for a poor refugee who can barely afford his or her rent: 100,000LL for just seeking residence inside the town.

The rationale behind these taxes is that these Syrians are treated like Lebanese citizens in those municipalities, by which they probably mean their garbage being collected occasionally. Except that those Syrians cannot even take out their garbage after 9 pm or a policeman would force them back to whichever door they came out from because they’re definitely up to no good if they’re walking the streets past their imposed “bedtime.”

I’m not against foreigners paying municipal taxes if municipalities are providing those foreigners, regardless of their nationalities, with the basic rights it’s providing to its voting citizens. I hardly think my and the potential tax money of Syrian refugees is going to any development. Municipalities are, more often than none, only a tool for political parties to flex their muscles every six years and for people not to get over it until the next election cycle rolls by.

However, are the Syrian foreigners – refugees or not – being treated the same as Lebanese citizens? I can already hear the laughter. At least I can make plans and go out past 9 pm. And isn’t the timing of said-taxes highly inappropriate, inhumane and downright despicable?

Municipalities, starting with mine, keep on coming up with ways to make the lives of people who don’t want to even be here a living hell. What’s their limit in tightening the noose on the Syrians who live within their jurisdiction when the perceived security threat of those Syrians is exaggerated to say the least? As long as mayors feel like they’re flexing their muscles and their citizens get a sense of fake-safety, anything goes.

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