Subsequently outraged German academics attempted to make the GUC reconsider its act of firing the Baha'i employee because he could not obtain an ID card. They appealed to the university's leadership and supporters and asked them for a statement on the case and on the steps they have taken to ensure that human rights are respected at GUC.
Consequent to these as well as to other efforts, an important development ensued, but before getting into this, Basem Wagdy's case will be revisited first as more information had become available.
In his own words, the following is an account of Basem Wagdy's dilemma:
1- I, Basem Wagdy, was officially appointed to position of Physics Teacher Assistant at the German University in Cairo on July 16th, 2006 (as per attached copy of the letter of appointment).
2- On September 6th, required documents were delivered to the Head of Human Resources Mrs. Amira Bassim as per employment regulations, except finger prints identification and social security document. At this time I was informed by her that these were the only further requirements.
* I officially began work on the same day.
3- I tried to open a bank account as per Finance Department requirements for salary dispersal, but was denied because I don't have a computerized ID card.
* Reported to Finance Department at GUC that I am unable to obtain computerized ID because of being a Baha'i, and informed them that this situation may take time to be resolved.
* At this point he [Finance Department] informed me I should write a letter to him with details of situation and meanwhile he would pay me through a check.
* On the same day, Mr. Ahmad Mahroos, responsible for GUC IDs came to my office accompanied by the Finance Department man and took my GUC ID and the ID of one other new staff member, stating that these two IDs need to be fixed. She received hers in 2 days time, but mine was never returned.
4- I delivered finger prints identification document on September 24th. My social security document was still being finalized.
5- On 26th September I received email dated 25th September, from the Head of HR [Human Resources] Mrs. Amira Bassim stating that GUC is terminating my employment on grounds that my legal documents are incomplete
6- On meeting with the Head of HR, I was informed that my employment is discontinued because my personal ID is invalid. I argued it is legally valid through the end of this year (2006) and that there is a court case regarding the issue of IDs for Baha'is and therefore there are no legal grounds for termination at this time.
7- At this point she made it clear, that this decision comes from "a higher authority." When I asked who, she said she didn't know but it could be national security and other higher authorities. She further stated that the University's position is sensitive and therefore they are unable to argue the decision. She also assured that this decision is not GUC's, and that the higher authorities did not approve my employment.
8- At the end of this meeting I was handed a pre-prepared letter of termination which I was asked to sign (see attached copy).
* These are the events that transpired to the best of my recollection and knowledge. Kindly take any actions that you see fit.
Now back to the important development that occurred since:
a prominent member of the German Parliament, Mrs. Lale Akgün, issued a press release entitled "Lale Akgün: Angela Merkel [chancellor of Germany] shall engage for human rights of Baha'is in Egypt." Mrs. Akgün is originally from Turkey, she is the Islam Representative of the Social Democrats in Germany and well-known for her activism for women emancipation in Islam and for creating a modern face of Islam in Germany and Europe.
Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel was scheduled to be in Egypt on a State visit early February.
In the press release Lale Akgün describes the case of Basem Wgady who was fired from GUC and the issue of ID cards in Egypt and challenges the chancellor to use her visit for this matter. She also says that equal treatment of members of the various religions in Egypt is also part of the peace process in the Near East.
The press release states the following (English translation):
The Cologne based Member of the Federal Parliament and Islam Representative of the Social Democrates is requesting the chancellor to engage during her travel to the Near East, among others to Egypt, for an improvement of the situation of the members of the Baha'i Faith.
As an example she forwarded information to the chancellor concerning a young physicist, who was dismissed from the German University of Cairo, because he was unable to present the required identity documents. The Baha'is are notoriously refused these documents, because religious affiliation is required, yet Baha'is are not recognized as religion.
In view of the just started German-Egyptian Year of Science the travel of the chancellor would be a good opportunity to discuss the situation of the Baha'is in Egypt.
"It is important, that also in Egypt the members of all religions receive equal treatment by the state and judiciary. A serious peace process in the Near East requires mutual acceptance and respect for other nationalities and religions in all concerned nations", says Lale Akgün, who is also deputy chair of the German delegation to the Euromediterranian Parliamentary Forum.
It is interesting to observe the reaction of German scholars and politicians to this injustice, particularly since it was perpetuated in a German institution located at another country. Egypt must realize however that violation of civil rights cannot be hidden, forgotten or tolerated as it has been in the past, and Egyptians must stand up for justice regardless of whether or not outside involvement is present.