Monday, August 14, 2006

Egypt: Interviews Regarding Religion & ID Cards

On Egypt's "Copts United" website one can view four interviews which were conducted with some participants in the symposium/workshop of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) on the elimination of religious classification from ID Cards.

The interviews can be viewed at this link. You will need to register (free) in order to download the video recording to 'Windows Media Player', or you can view the videos directly on the website if you find the specific files.

Look for the interviews with Mr. Madouh Nakhla, Mr. Gamal el-Banna, Mr. Hafez Abou Seada and Mr. Ahmad Shabaan.

For those who do not understand Arabic, very sorry.... The interviews are quite long and are beyond the capacity of this blog to translate, but if you have an Arabic-speaking friend, you can view it together so you would be able to share in enjoying its content.

To summarize, all those interviewed had emphatically and unequivocally promoted the acceptance and recognition of all religions in Egypt, including the Baha'is. They also asked for either the elimination of religious classification from ID Cards, or alternatively allowing every Egyptian citizen the freedom to indicate his or her religion on official documents, and without any discrimination or obstruction. They were concerned that Egypt might be the only civilized nation that requires stating religion on ID Cards.

They stressed the right of every citizen to freedom of belief and expression. They stated that religion is a personal and private matter which belongs to each individual and should never be interfered with, and that Islam had clearly instructed its followers to respect others' religious beliefs as had been revealed in the Koran. They stressed that Egypt needs to adapt to the modern world in upholding human rights for all its citizens regardless of their belief or their origin. That it is essential for the society as a whole to be accepting and tolerant in accordance with the respect for human dignity, the constitutional guarantees for all citizens, and the laws of the land.

When asked about the feasibility of applying the NCHR recommendations to solve the serious situation facing Egyptian Baha'is and their inability to obtain ID Cards without having to lie about their true religion, thy indicated that it is the Government's responsibility to do so, just as it did with previous recommendations advanced by Human Rights Organizations. A referendum would not be a possible alternative for enforcing such change in the law because minorities, like Baha'is, would never have a chance to prevail in such an environment.

When listening to these four individuals, one could not but firmly believe that Egypt is full of people that are sincerely committed to freedom for everyone, and it brings to light a silent majority that Egypt should be proud of. Their dedication and devotion to righteousness and equality is exemplary. It is clear that with such progressive and enlightened citizens, much could be gained by the country as a whole. This is the Egypt that had contributed to civilization and progress of the world, and it is obvious that it will resume to do so once it follows the path of tolerance, acceptance and civil liberties.


  1. Your comments are exactly what I was wondering a while back about Egypt. As I said I have not given two seconds thought about Egypt or its society. But with the large population of educated people (too many unemployed) still it has such capacity. And as you say there is a silent ocean and in that silent ocean are magnificent fish of integrity and sensitivity to the search for truth. Ohhh the politics of it all, and the rose that has become a rose thorn, and that is presses into the flesh again and again. Yes, a rose is a rose by any name but when it devotes all its sap and energy into its thorn for the sake of what????

    The French (I think I read it in HS French literature) have a saying, "To know all is to forgive all." Well, I wish the Egyptian ocean of intregity and Justice, and honor would be released from it bonds, its borders and flood the region with a new look on the reality of life...while lifting up, like a floating island, the jewel that is hidden on Carmel

  2. While there is a great number of free thinkers and tolerant individuals in Egypt--the majority of whom are Muslims as well as the Christian minority--frequently they are overwhelmed with a Muslim fundamentalist movement that ignores all truths and propagates vicious falsities and accusations regarding the peace-loving and law-abiding Baha’i population. Thus, this fundamentalist movement fosters an environment of doubt and hatred among some of the impressionable masses. Whatever is happening with public opinion, the ESSENTIAL POINT IS that the Government is under the obligation to enforce the Constitution of the land and its own laws that clearly guarantee equality for all its citizens, the freedom of belief, of thought and of religious practice! This remains to be seen….


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