Thursday, June 22, 2006

Egypt's Baha'is: World Press Outcry for Humanity

(AP photos x 2: M. Al-Sehety)

This, soon to expire, tarnished ID Card may be the only proof this man has left to document his identity in a traditionally restrictive society. When it expires by the end of this year, this man will be living in the shadows, in constant fear for his family and himself. Today, an AP story syndicated by Mariam Fam hit the media across the globe. To name a few, it spread from Minneapolis to Monterey, from Syracuse to St. Louis, from Forbes to the Washington Post, and from Yahoo to ABC International.

This touching human story will stroke a very tender chord in the hearts of those who have the courage to read it. It describes the struggle of an Egyptian Baha'i and his family in their attempt to survive in a controlled society, without proper official identity documents. As this has been a developing story, previous posts had clearly described the details of this serious issue. In short, Egyptian Baha'is are deprived of obtaining Government-issued ID cards as well as all other official documents, including death certificates, unless they recant their religion and declare one of only three choices given to them, namely: Muslim, Christian or Jewish.

This man, his wife and their two sons were born in Egypt and of Egyptian ancestry. They have been law abiding, and exemplary citizens, who have served their country just like other productive and respected members of society. Based on the standards of the Egyptian society, this highly intelligent and accomplished man has, in spite of a lifelong discrimination and persecution, managed to reach one of the most respected positions in the country. He is currently a full Professor at the Faculty of Engineering in Egypt's prestigious Cairo University, where he has been for several decades educating thousands of Egyptian students.

This man has repeatedly stated during several interviews, "I am an Egyptian. I was born in Egypt...and I would not leave Egypt," but what he did not say is more alarming than what was said: in Egypt a person's religion, in most cases, is easily recognizable by the individual's name. This man's name is Labib Iskandar [Alexander] Hanna, in Egypt it is definitely a name of Christian origin--a minority population in Egypt. As it is not unusual in that society, those who do not know him will discriminate against him because they assume that he is a Christian, and those who know him will discriminate against him because they are aware that he is a Baha'i!

Despite all his suffering, he still made that statement, quoted above, "I am an Egyptian. I was born in Egypt...and I would not leave Egypt." We should be all in awe of this man's courage and nobility of character--at least in part because of what he did not say!

Why should any society in today's world systematically discriminate against such people? How, in God's name, could they be a threat to anyone? The accusations against the Baha'is in Egypt have been always entirely false and baseless. Any Egyptian with a sense of understanding and fairness, as we had seen recently, recognizes the abhorrent treatment the Baha'is have been subjected to in Egypt. Many more voices must cry out for justice!

In order to read what this man has said, you may click here.

5 comments:

  1. Mr. Labib Hannah is indeed a very courageous man and yet, so soft spoken and gentle. Thank you for posting his photograph, and thank you for your useful and comprehensive blog about the situation of the Bahai's in Egypt.

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  2. Here is an interesting news item for some thought!
    http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level_English.php?cat=Religion&loid=8.0.271868266&par=

    TURKEY: RELIGION TO BECOME AN OPTIONAL ON ID CARDS

    Istanbul, 3 March (AKI) - Turkey is set to allow its citizens to choose whether or not they want their religion specified on identity cards. The move which for Turkey marks a step towards complying with European Union regulations doing away with people being classified by religious creed, is expected to be approved by Parliament soon. Turkey’s Islamic ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) last week tabled in parliament the bill which states that the religion section on identity cards issued to newly born children can be left blank if their families so wish.

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  3. اهلا وسهلا یا أخي وجزیل الشکر لک مرة أخری علی الإبداع وتنظیم الموقع الممتاز هذا وکان هناک مقالة جدیدة منشورة علی موقع الانترنت التالي عن بهائي مصر الاسبوع الماضي
    : http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/arabic/middle_east_news/newsid_5088000/5088552.stm

    حفظک الله سبحانه وتعالی

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  4. Thank you so much for this reference. It is another human story about an Egyptian Baha'i family, published on BBC News. An interview with Dr. Bassma, who is a professor of oral surgery at Cairo University. It describes how this family has been surviving in Egypt. It explores some of the history of the Baha'i Faith in Egypt, as well as the current issues regarding ID cards and the recognition of Baha'is in Egypt. The interview was carried out while a television program regarding the Baha'is was in broadcast. The article shows a picture of the Shrine of the Bab and the gardens in Haifa. It also shows a picture of a portion of an old Egyptian birth certificate of one of their children with the parents’ religion documented as “Baha’i.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/arabic/middle_east_news/newsid_5088000/5088552.stm

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  5. Another article from Hawaii:

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/24/il/FP606240357.html

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