Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Egyptian Baha'is Without Rights: Public Outrage

Except for the extremist and hateful few who have called the Baha'is "microbes in the bodies of Egyptians" or screamed while holding up their Qur'an "expel them all" and "kill them all," the rest of the Egyptian public as well as the world's public have been outraged at the recent developments in the case of the Egyptian Baha'is as they were denied their due civil rights.

The extent of this disgraceful violation of basic human rights is just being grasped by the public after their gradual recovery from the initial shock induced by the verdict of Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court which, in its misguided ineptitude, has managed to dodge the real merits of the case and went on its rampage attacking the religion itself rather than dealing with the issue at hand.

As is well known, this case has nothing to do with the question of the recognition of the Baha'i Faith in Egypt. It is about the right of a group of Egyptian citizens to their constitutionally guaranteed ability to coexist with their fellow citizens and to be able to carry on with their life in peace.

Without ID Cards, as of 1 January 2007, Egyptian Baha'is will not be able to collect their salaries or pensions, get their money out of their bank accounts, register the birth of their children, vaccinate their children, obtain death certificates, inherit their dead parents or family members, obtain employment, obtain or renew a driver's license, obtain a mobile telephone, purchase a vehicle or a property, get treated in a hospital, purchase medicine from a pharmacy, admit their children to schools, enroll in a university, obtain a national draft number, travel, marry, divorce, obtain any sort of public service, obtain social services, sleep in a hotel room, graduate from a university, and the list goes on, as was best put by one of Egypt's Baha'is "it affects us from birth to death." Furthermore, without an ID card, any of these citizens can get arrested in the streets on the spot and for no reason.

To say the least, the magnitude and the implications of that recent court decision are enormous. Sadly, this outcome was not at all unexpected considering the expressed bias of the court, the State Commissioner's report prepared by many of the judges sitting on the Supreme Court, and the leaks from the court to the media prior to the verdict.

Since Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court has shown, without a doubt, its utter ineptitude, its unethical bias and its clear inability to rule on a simple legal matter, showing a frightening degree of corruption and indecisiveness by avoiding the issue brought to its respected chambers, it is time for the highest levels of the government to step in and uphold its sacred responsibility to protect its own citizens and grant them their civil rights...anything less is unacceptable.

It is becoming vividly clear that the reason for including religious classification in ID Cards and all other official documents is to discriminate against minorities.... Excuses given by the 'Establishment' are: "so that marriage, burial and inheritance laws can be applied." It is hoped that the government is savvy enough to realize that there are many other ways to identify a person's religion for these given purposes, a simple example: the religious authority to whom a person belongs can issue a separate document for such uses.

Religion has no place on ID Cards which are used for daily transactions, employment matters and the several other uses indicated above. Why must a car salesman know your religion in order to sell you a car? How about a banker? Does your religion matter for you to withdraw cash from your account?

I will leave this to the wisdom of the authorities to clarify to us the real reasons for insisting on the inclusion of religion on ID Cards....

Public and Media Reaction:

On the day of the verdict several Egyptian non-Baha'i bloggers and human rights activists went to the court to show their support and solidarity with the Baha'is. They carried signs of blown-up old ID cards of Egyptian Baha'is. One of the demonstrators carried a sign indicating that even though he does not agree with the Baha'is, he does support their right to be recognized and be provided with ID cards. Some of the extremists present tried to engage these demonstrators in arguments. Some of the misguided media reported erroneously that the Baha'is were demonstrating and that they got into fights with the Islamists. Of course this misrepresentation was later corrected by the bloggers themselves in their posts following the verdict.

Immediately after the verdict was read by the chief justice, the Islamist extremists shouted and screamed insults at the Baha'is and proclaimed their victory and the victory of Islam. They chanted "Allah'u-Akbar" along with other slogans. The Baha'is did not respond to that emotional and hateful outburst, but simply smiled in serenity and dignity. These reactions can be easily seen in the video clips which have been attached to the sidebar of this blog during the last few days, and can be reviewed on "youtube' at the same link.

A media frenzy in Egypt immediately followed the verdict, most of which has been supportive of the Baha'is. Prominent world news agencies and foreign media (linked here) have provided extensive coverage and expressed their outrage at this flagrant violation of civil and human rights. Several television and radio interviews were conducted with the Baha'is, who were provided with a forum to express their needs and their reaction to the verdict.

All human rights organizations within and outside Egypt released strong statements in support of the civil rights of the Baha'is and have expressed their disgust with the verdict and with the total lack of regard to the merits of the case shown by Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court.

On the side bar of this blog I have linked to several of these press releases, statements as well as the Egyptian blogs reporting on this historical event. Also, attached with this post are several Egyptian newspaper articles that were just released, one of which was published on the same day of the verdict, as a continuation of a previous publication, and reported extensively on the Baha'is' Most Holy Book [al-Kitab al-Aqdas].

Overall, even if the verdict has left a sad mark on Egypt's contemporary history, oddly the Baha'is emerged from this feeling victorious, and are certain that in due time their full rights will be granted.

15 comments:

  1. Great proclaimation of the faith.Entry by troops just around the corner. God will lead the Egyptian Bahais out of this crises somehow. Our prayers with our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

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  2. This is all about Egyptian Baha'is obtaining their civil rights, so that they can go about their daily living just like any other citizen in their homeland and without any discrimination.

    One Egyptian Baha'i put it to me best in very simple and clear words, she said: "I am a surgeon, and I just want to go on and do my surgery so I can help the poor people I serve...this is all I want."

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  3. history repeats itself over and over again....

    2000 years ago it was the Christians verses the lions....

    Today it is the Bahais verses the Iranian and Egyptian Governments

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  4. Hopefully, it is not really the government, but rather the extremist elements of society. There is a lot of acceptance and empathy out there that cannot be ignored!

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  5. Thank you so much for your blog.

    I'd like to inform you that France 24 (new french CNN) in gonna air about the matter.

    Look on the last post i just published at http://nlwo.blogspot.com/ a new baha'i legal blog!

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  6. I have not too much to say but we are very proud of you.
    God Bless you all!

    And once more:
    "The text of certain Muhammadan traditions, the authenticity of which Muslims themselves recognize, and which have been extensively quoted by eminent Oriental Bahá’í scholars and authors, will serve to corroborate the argument and illuminate the theme I have attempted to expound: “In the latter days a grievous calamity shall befall My people at the hands of their ruler, a calamity such as no man ever heard to surpass it. So fierce will it be that none can find a shelter. God will then send down One of My descendants, One sprung from My family, Who will fill the earth with equity and justice, even as it hath been filled with injustice and tyranny.” And, again: “A day shall be witnessed by My people whereon there will have remained of Islám naught but a name, and of the Qur’án naught but a mere appearance. The doctors of that age shall be the most evil the world hath ever seen. Mischief hath proceeded from them, and on them will it recoil.” And, again: “At that hour His malediction shall descend upon you, and your curse shall afflict you, and your religion shall remain an empty word on your tongues. And when these signs appear amongst you, anticipate the day when the red-hot wind will have swept over you, or the day when ye will have been disfigured, or when stones will have rained upon you.”
    “O people of the Qur’án,” Bahá’u’lláh, addressing the combined forces of Sunní and Shí’ih Islám, significantly affirms, “Verily, the Prophet of God, Muhammad, sheddeth tears at the sight of your cruelty. Ye have assuredly followed your evil and corrupt desires, and turned away your face from the light of guidance. Erelong will ye witness the result of your deeds; for the Lord, My God, lieth in wait and is watchful of your behavior… O concourse of Muslim divines! By your deeds the exalted station of the people hath been abased, the standard of Islám hath been reversed, and its mighty throne hath fallen.”

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  7. I hope it will not come to that but is seems that the world is getting closer to an all out nuclear war....

    I hope I am wrong

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  8. Daniel,
    Merci!
    I'll try to find the video, but if you can help with providing me with a specific link to the recroding it would be of great help. I also linked to the legal blog...it is a wonderful addition.

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  9. Joao,
    Thank you for the very powerful quotations. They are timely.

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  10. Anonymous,
    I do not agree with the statement made regarding "nuclear war." This is neither the subject of this blog, nor is related to the crisis at hand facing the Egyptian Bahá’ís. This crisis is about citizens of a country being unjustly deprived of their rights, and the search for a solution to their dilemma.

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  11. It is almost comical for the Muslim community calling for Rep Goode to apologize for his anti-Muslim comments regarding Rep. Keith Ellison and the congress ceremony. At the same time it is OK for the justice system in Egypt denying the Egyption Baha’is their right to obtain ID required for everyday business.

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  12. Anonymous,
    For the sake of clarity, the story you have referred to can be seen here.
    The same can be said for when Islamic leaders wrote to the Pope emphasizing the merciful, tolerant and compassionate essence of Islam in their outrage at his previous remarks, while on the other hand--and shortly after--denouncing the Baha'is as infidels and apostates of Islam.... What exactly are they trying to say? And what are we supposed to believe?

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  13. Bilo,

    if i get a link to the video, i'll let you know immediately.

    I hope it will work!

    ReplyDelete
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