Monday, August 28, 2006

Egypt: TV Program On Religion & ID Cards (Part-1)

This, as well as future three posts, will provide viewing and (almost verbatim) translation of a program that was televised on the Egyptian TV channel Dream-2 on 13 August 2006 regarding the highly publicized, and critical, issue of Religious Classification on Egypt's ID Cards.

The blog's author would like to credit and thank Shahnaz for her hard work in translating the whole program.

The following is the translation of today's section of the program, which could be also viewed at this link.

Broadcaster: A common expression says that, sometimes, a person's humanity or existence is confirmed by papers or that papers are the real proof of his existence on earth.

One of the most important documents we deal with throughout our daily life is the personal ID card or the "National Number", that is if you have been transitioned [already] to the National Number. The main sections on the ID card are: name, birth date, social status, religion, and the nationality which is of course obvious when you are applying for an Egyptian ID.

Suddenly, the religious classification issue became a source of questions:
Should the ID have your religion written on it, such as Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Sikh, or is this a matter that only concerns you? As a citizen, should anyone be concerned with what religion or what belief system you have or what beliefs you conceal in your heart?

The National Council for Human Rights [NCHR] conducted a workshop, and it was a heated one. There were many strong clashing opinions, because briefly this subject could be taken [or thought of] in two ways: the first way is why only now do they want to change the religion section? Is this issue related to the cancellation of the [religion section on the] ID card? Or is this idea about globalization and putting our nation in a state of distortion where you can't know its roots, future or other features? Is it related to the world-wide attack on Islam, meaning there is a problem [with Islam] so they want to remove the religion section [from ID Cards]?

The other way of thinking or dealing with the religious classification question:
How will citizenship benefit from including the religious section? In other words, you as a citizen--whether Muslim, Christian or Jewish--have the right to education regardless of anything else, the right to medical treatment regardless of anything else, to be provided an opportunity to work regardless of not only religion but any other social considerations.

Therefore, there is a group that supports the idea of [equal] citizenship and says remove the section for religion and another group that supports the idea of an "identity" and is disturbed by the mere thought of canceling the religion section on the ID, e.g. Muslim or Christian.

We went to the streets and randomly asked people about their opinions in regards to canceling the religion section [on ID Cards]. After broadcasting this, we will present the different and convergent ideas [about the issue].

To be continued....


  1. Not having time to watch most of these shows (usually too tired, exhausted or asleep when they are aired) I can't wait till you post the other parts.

    Keep it going!

  2. You know the questions you raise in the transcript on the blog, the basic individual civil rights,we are dealing with some of the basic concepts of the nation state. It is easier for me to imagine someone who has never left Egypt would also find it more difficult to see the ideas of individual civil rights, much less universal ones.

    To my mind the epoch of the nation state's rise, which began a long time ago and perhaps has reached its culmination of expression in the LONE SUPERPOWER ....
    (just like concept of PEAK OIL, Iwonder if we have reached the peak of the productive benefits of being a nationalist, or having a leadership that is nationalistic ?)

  3. Akhi el-Aziz Faisal,
    Thank you for your interest. I’ll make sure to post the rest of the program.

    Dear Edoriver,
    Very perceptive of you to make this observation. People are in need to think of their fellow beings in the context of humanity. We are all equals and should all be in a position to benefit from the bounties given to us without any discrimination. There should be no deference to this one or that one because of race, belief, social status or national origin. Leaders need to think globally rather than locally so that equilibrium could be achieved and injustices subside. This could ultimately lead to the peace we are all yearning for. Wars and conflicts are precipitated by the sense of injustice, jealousy, poverty and the lack of equal opportunity....


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