Today, the Ministry of Interior blamed the Baha'is for the so-called "crisis of the religion section on ID cards" and denied that there is a problem documenting "official religions."
In Akhbar el-Youm newspaper, the deputy minister of interior Essam el-Deen Bahgat stated that 38 Million ID cards have been issued and 5 Million more are on their way. When he was asked about the matter raised by human rights organizations regarding the inability of some of the citizens to obtain ID cards because of the religion section, he responded by blaming the Baha'is for that crisis.
He affirmed that "there are no problems for anyone to obtain an ID card, and that the group which caused these difficulties are those calling themselves Baha'is. Their request to document their religion violates the Egyptian law which recognizes only three divine religions, namely Islam, Christianity and Judaism, and we stand by this based on clear court decisions."
When asked how this matter should be dealt with, he responded by stating "we will enter the religion of the father whether he was Christian or Muslim in the religion section for the Baha'i applicants. If he [she] refuses, then we will not issue an ID card, and he will have to deal with the consequences."
This appears to be the latest stand of the Ministry of Interior on the matter of the ID cards for the Egyptian Baha'i citizens. It clearly states that a Baha'i must either accept the denial of his or her religion and convert to one of the three recognized religions in Egypt, or live without an ID card and suffer the consequences.
Since the ministry stated that they will assign religions to people according to their fathers' religion, one would wonder how could this be applied to the majority of the Baha'is in Egypt who are a fourth or fifth generation Baha'is! How many generations are they intending to go back to?
Is this a responsible answer from a respected deputy minister of interior, to simply state convert or else?
Furthermore, how could they blame the Baha'is for creating this problem? The Baha'is have always been peaceful and law-abiding citizens who, all of a sudden, became confronted with laws depriving them of their citizenship rights. The Baha'is were not the ones who limited ID cards to only three religions with no other options. They did not create these new rules, nor did they request the recognition of their religion.
The Bahá’ís simply want to co-exist with their fellow citizens and continue to contribute to the advancement of the Egyptian society as they have always done.
The travesty of this new development is that Egypt's Ministry of Interior is instructing Egyptian citizens to lie on official documents on which, the application form clearly states that any false statements are punishable by imprisonment and large fines!