Are rights and duties equal?

There is no doubt that rights and duties are two sides of the same coin, which together constitute the concept of citizenship. The citizen’s exercise of his rights, and the state’s duties towards him, is a reciprocal, interactive, participatory relationship, two inseparable twins. This relationship presupposes equality between the homeland and the citizen.

 Freedom does not go without order, and order has no value without freedom. Syria is a very diverse country, whether in its geographical location or in its population diversity, and it is currently a cauldron that boils with the fire of political, cultural, social, religious and ethnic difference. A new social contract and the creation of a Syrian people with a comprehensive Syrian national identity.

 The state of political mobility has clearly and directly imposed a re-consideration of the culture of citizenship among the segments of society, because it is one of the most important practical stimuli for democratic transformation to ensure an equal relationship between the homeland and the citizen. If citizenship is the solution, it is necessary to work on this concept (citizenship). Citizenship in its modern concept is based on an ancient philosophical foundation that was linked to the concept of the city-state as being the basic unit in the formation. Or assaulted by the state, which are civil, political and social rights, including:

The right to equality with others.

The right to participate in political decision-making

Rights related to economic, social and cultural affairs.

 These three elements that give the concept of citizenship its meaning, summarized in the rule of law within democratic institutions.

We note the multiplicity of definitions of the concept of citizenship, which is the most complex combination of political and social sciences concepts, as the concept derives its meaning in the language from the concept of homeland, i.e. place of residence and protection, while the sociology dictionary views citizenship as a status or social relationship that exists between a natural individual and a political community (state). Through which the first party (the citizen) provides loyalty, while the second party undertakes protection, and this relationship is determined by the existing systems of government – according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theory of the social contract – that the individual (the active citizen) in the state to which he belongs has rights that must be presented to him, and at the same time he bears a set of social responsibilities that he must perform.

All international agreements and covenants have come to affirm the equality of human beings, and the inadmissibility of discrimination among them on the grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion or other criteria of differentiation and difference between human beings, Syria has joined a large number of international instruments that stipulate a set of rights and obligations guaranteeing respect for human dignity and basic rights, among which are the following:

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16/12/1966

International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, issued on December 31/1965

 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women 12/28/1979

 Syria is also a party to 58 conventions related to workers’ rights and trade union freedoms that were adopted within the framework of the International Labor Organization, and it is bound by many international conventions related to cultural and intellectual human rights within the framework of (UNESCO). As for the freedoms that exist between the folds of the current constitution, we see that there are some main premises such as personal freedom, freedom of belief, religious rites, freedom of expression, education, housing, property, work, trade union, social and professional organizations, and the right to political asylum, within the articles of the constitution in Chapter Two – Chapter One. From it, Article 36: Private life is inviolable and protected by law.

Article 38:

1- A citizen may not be deported from the homeland or prevented from returning to it.

2- A citizen may not be handed over to any foreign entity.

Article 42:

1- Freedom of belief is safeguarded in accordance with the law.

2- Every citizen has the right to express his opinion freely and publicly, verbally, in writing, or by all means of expression.

Article 44: Citizens have the right to assemble, demonstrate peacefully, and strike within the framework of the principles of the Constitution, and the law regulates the exercise of these rights.

However, the articles of the constitution are not free of criticism in order to be in line with the principle of citizenship, including that defining the religion of the president of the republic with Islam violates the clause of equality between all citizens in rights and duties as stipulated in the constitution itself. The access of a Christian to the presidency cannot be achieved without the approval of the Muslim majority of the country. If the majority is satisfied with the support of a Christian candidate to reach the presidency, where does the problem lie in that?

The concept of citizenship can only be achieved here by moving away from the marginalization, exclusion or discrimination of any person, on basis of religion, race, gender or belief, within the framework of a civil state that respects diversity and pluralism while providing means to ensure the participation of all in the management of state affairs, and citizenship must also be activated. To raise its status in the political, religious and intellectual discourse, and to change the societal culture of the concept of citizenship through civil society institutions. Citizenship rights at the level of real practice.

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