Thursday, September 28, 2006

Egypt: Al-Azhar On The Defensive

In response to the International Religious Freedom Report released by the US Department of State, al-Azhar's top clergy are attempting to justify their position in the persecution of Egyptian Baha'is which was clearly addressed in the report as a violation of human rights.

This defense was published on 28 September 2006 in "Nahdat Misr" (Rise & Renaissance of Egypt) newspaper, entitled "American arrows [implanted] in the heart of al-Azhar...."

Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour
, a member of al-Azhar's Islamic Research Council, criticized the US report by stating that: "al-Azhar's position on Baha'is is very firm, and since it does not recognize the Baha'i Faith as a divine religion, therefore Baha'is cannot be persecuted." Implying that as far as al-Azhar is concerned, Baha'is have no rights since they do not belong to one of "the three recognized religions."

He also stated that "the report serves the soldiers [the loyals] of the United States in the region, adding, "we would not accept the interference of anyone in our internal affairs, even if it is the United States."

He stated: "Baha'i is not a religion in order for us to persecute it."

Now in response to these statements:

1) It is not up to al-Azhar or its clergy to determine whether or not the Baha'i Faith is a Divine Religion. The Baha'i Faith's divinity and legitimacy have long been established and recognized worldwide. al-Azhar is in no position, does not have the knowledge, nor has the authority to make such determination.

2) If we follow the same logic used by al-Azhar to justify its position towards the Baha'i Faith, then the millions of Muslims living in Western Countries would have no rights whatsoever, and their persecution would be justified (free for all) since Islam is not recognized by Christianity as a divine religion. But we know that this is not how they are being treated in countries where Christianity is the majority. They have their full civil rights, they are recognized as Muslims and they are free to worship and to propagate their religion.


  1. I agree with Bilo that religion should not be displayed on Egyptian I/D cards. Muslin faith is accepting of other people beliefs.

  2. Thank you Yasser for your comment.

    Clearly, people with all religious backgrounds should be able to live together in absolute harmony. There is too much to be gained by this and nothing to lose. Defining people by their religion on ID cards can only widen the rift rather than bringing them together.


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