Sunday, September 17, 2006

Egyptian Paper Reports On US State Dept. Religious Freedom Report

Yesterday, 16 September 2006, al-Mesryoon (The Egyptians), an independent Egyptian daily newspaper, published a report on the US Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report which was released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor on 15 September 2006.

The paper summarized the report in great detail. However, the writer of the article appears to have made a substantial error in his interpretation of the number of the Baha'i population in Egypt. The writer, Mr. Ahmad Hassan Bakr reported: "[the US State Department] claimed that the number of Baha'is in Egypt exceeds 500,000 individuals."

In another paragraph, he writes: "Even though the [US State Department] report on religious freedoms for the year 2005 estimated the [number of] Baha'is in Egypt [to be] 2,000 Baha'is only, but that this year's report estimated their number [to be] 500,000."

In fact, the US State Department's Report stated the following: "...The Government also continued to deny civil documents, including identity cards, birth certificates, and marriage licenses, to members of the Baha'i community, which numbered 500 to 2000 persons."

And in another paragraph, the report of the US State Department stated: "...The number of Baha'is was estimated at between 500 and 2 thousand persons."

It should be noted that since the dissolution of the Baha'i Institutions in Egypt by the presidential decree of 1960, there has been no way to know or even estimate the number of Baha'is in Egypt. There is no mechanism to register them or even find them. So, these estimates may not reflect reality at all.

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