Thursday, January 25, 2007

ID Cards for Egyptian Baha'is: the Ongoing Saga

This is one of the latest newspaper articles published in Al-Masry Al-Youm on 21 January 2007 as a letter from an Egyptian citizen.

It is entitled: "Without"...A compromise Solution.

The writer states: I am an Egyptian citizen named Ahmed Helmy Muhammad Abdu'l-Wahab (a Baha'i). I was looking at Akhbar newspaper of Wednesday 27 December 2006, and I liked the words of President Mubarak on the first page "we are all Egyptians equal in rights and responsibilities," and again on the fifth page with a large title regarding constitutional reforms "assuring the equality of all citizens without discrimination based on gender or religion or origin." I was saddened by the judgement of the Supreme Administrative Court depriving the Baha'is of their rights to obtain identification documents unless they agree to enter one of the three religions (Islam, Christianity & Judaism)...and I demand my right to be issued the National ID Card without being forced to deny my religion or to enter a religion other that what I believe in. I accept the entry of the word "other" in the religion section or leaving it blank, so that no one continues to claim that we have requested the State to recognize the Baha'i Faith, a claim that is entirely baseless. I plead that the President stands by his Egyptian sons [and daughters] who happen to be Baha'is who have been requesting their rights as citizens, and the rights of their children to be issued Egyptian birth certificates so that they can be admitted to schools and not be deprived of education, and the rights of their dead to be issued death certificates so that their dependents can obtain their inheritance rights and their pension.

The newspaper's comment states: "Why indeed the Ministry of Interior is not issuing official documents for the Baha'is and entering "without" as a compromise solution?!"

This open letter is a perfect example of how this crisis has been affecting the lives of Egyptian Baha'is, which was put into the most straightforward, simple and clearly understood words....

This obviously is the voice of one of these citizens who continue to suffer as a result of the injustice forced on the Egyptian Baha'i community. The Baha'is must obtain ID cards as guaranteed to them by the Egyptian constitution. As stated in the application form, they cannot lie on official documents by denying their religion, which would be punishable by law. They are not requesting the official recognition of their religion, and there must be a reasonable and humane solution to their situation. Regardless of the solution reached, it has to guarantee that Baha'is are not treated as second-class citizens in their own homeland.


  1. O SON OF MAN!
    For everything there is a sign. The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials."
    --Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah

    Easy for me to quote, right? ;-)
    But if we believe we are all connected, associated, related, the fortitude we can show in our much much milder US or Japanese conditions, may rebound to help those in greater and greatest need to accept the Will of God, perhaps.

    Edo River's thoughts

  2. The only choice our dear friends in Egypt have is to persist!

  3. I know this isn't the way it should be but writing muslim/christian on a piece of paper isn't going to detract from your faith. You are right to go for basic human rights of getting recognition etc etc but meanwhile why not just choose another one to get through the retarded bureaucracy in this country.

    I don't know if you are able or want to do a post about this but it would be interesting to know how you and/or others came to faith.

  4. egyptiandust,
    Thank you for your well-intentioned comment. According to the application form instructions, writing a religion other than one's own would be considered as making a false statement on official documents punishable with imprisonment and a large fine. Also, it is a matter of conscience, just the same as if a Muslim would have been forced to write in Baha’i for his or her religion…would that be acceptable?

  5. Blaming the Victim!!

    An appalling injustice is to commit it first and them blame those who are its victims for their sad lot! That is what this Deputy Minister whose responsibility is to protect all citizens, including minorities, from tyranny and inaccurate press, has committed! He has decreed that one's religion is his or her father's religion!

    If this applied during the age of Ignorance (Pre-Islam), this Deputy Minister would not be able to truthfully write down that he is Muslim.

    He is also assuming that all Baha'is are recent converts! There have been Baha'is in Egypt for several generations! How many generations requires another tyrannical judgment by an esteemed court to go back 5 or 6 generations! And if this makes sense to the Honorable Deputy Minister, perhaps they can extend this to 50 or 60 generations - going back to the Age of Ignorance!

  6. Anonymous,
    You may want to re-publish your comment in the next post, which is applicable to it.


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