Claude and Seble smile mischievously as they recount how they met five years ago. Husband and wife, they sit on the couch in their home in the quaint town of Ebrin, Batroun, overlooking the sea, and exchange a sly look as the question is raised. They are murky on the details.
It all started one night in Djibouti. Seble was on vacation from her native Ethiopia, and Claude had moved to the country from Lebanon to get a job as a metal worker. “We were both out on the town,” Seble begins. “And I wanted a tattoo … ”
“And I do tattoos,” Claude interjected, before they both began to giggle. “And we got married, and that’s it!”
They married one year later at a church in Lebanon, where they now reside with their two children. But they have had to overcome many hurdles to their union.
Like most interracial couples in the country, Seble and Claude consistently experience discrimination, whether in public, from institutions, and sometimes even within their own families and social circles.
Seble had heard of the discrimination against African migrants in Lebanon, and was petrified before she came. Unfortunately, her experiences here have confirmed some of her worst fears. She recalled a trip to a restaurant where she and Claude bumped into a friend of his mother.
“She said to my husband, ‘You’re bringing an Ethiopian to a restaurant!’ She was shocked,” Seble said. “He told her that I’m his wife and these are our kids. She said, ‘Do you speak Arabic?’ … I didn’t say anything. She said, ‘You, speak!’”
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