Thursday, August 17, 2006

Egypt: Audio Interviews Following Workshop On Religion & ID Cards

There were several programs on radio and television in Egypt following the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Workshop/Symposium on omitting religion from ID Cards, held on 8 August 2006. This post will provide the reader with a radio program and interviews on Deutsche Welle Radio.

In order to listen to the program (in Arabic) please click here. When you connect to the website, click where it says: "Click to start RealPlayer and play your media." This will start your RealPlayer program, You can then scroll to the seventh minute if you wish to skip the introduction.

For those who are non-Arabic speaking, here is a summary of the program:

It began with a brief history of the Baha'i Faith indicating that there are over Five Million Baha'is worldwide and a few thousands in Egypt. It also described the issue of new ID Cards in Egypt, allowing only three religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism), and leaving the Baha'is as well as other denominations with no identity unless they falsify documents and lie about their religion in order to be recognized and obtain ID Cards. It then spoke of the recent NCHR workshop on the omission of religion from ID Cards.

First, Dr. Basma Moussa was interviewed. She indicated that the Baha'i Faith is an independent World Religion, that Baha'is have been viciously and falsely accused of all kinds of nonsense, and that they have not been heard in Egypt because of being a minority. She later commented that Baha'is in Egypt will accept any solution other than lying about their true religion. They will accept "other," "empty space," or even "dashes." She said: "we just want to live!"

Second, was Mr. Hafez Abou Seada, member of the NCHR who described the situation of the Baha'is in Egypt, and that the council had received a complaint from the Baha'i International Community, a member of the United Nations non-Governmental Organizations, regarding the inability of Egyptian Baha'is to obtain ID Cards. He said that the Ministry of Interior offered to provide passports to the Baha'is which do not show religious classification. The NCHR's response was that since this could be offered, why then the Government could not do the same with ID Cards, i.e. Cards without religious classification. He then discussed the discriminatory practices against Coptic Christians in Egypt. He also, later in the program, commented on the Coptic-Christian/Islamic conflict in Egypt and that it urgently needs a radical solution.

Third, was Mr. Morkos Aziz who indicated that the excuse for including religion in ID Cards has been that it is needed for matters inheritance, marriage and divorce. He said that all these matters could easily be handled in many other ways than using ID Cards, such identification can be provided by the religious organizations to which people belong.

Fourth, Ms. Monaz al-Faqar [sp?], a representative of the Civil Society Organization suggested two choices to solve this impasse: either omit religious classification from ID Cards, or leave it in and recognize all religions.

The interviewer, then closed by indicating that this Workshop has, at least, provided a forum for dialogue which is leading to further understanding of the rights of citizenship.


  1. Dear Bilo,

    Thank you for you constant updates and for keeping us informed. The issue of the rights of the Bahá’ís in Egypt is just a reflection of the internal conflict within the Egyptian society regarding the right and freedom of individuals. I think it a healthy that these issues are discussed in public, but society and the life of people can not be put on hold forever. Decisions have to be made!

    We heard the opinions and views of different organizations and agencies, including Alazhar, now the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the Egyptian government have to articulate their position! Hopefully they will are and choose to respect the Egyptian constitution and the different Human Rights declarations the government signed. We are waiting to see what happens in September!

  2. For those (like me) who do not understand Arabic, there is an interview of Saad Ebrahim in English. It is about human rights but he mentions the case of the Bahá'ís and the ID cards:

  3. Thank you so much Diane. This is very helpful.


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