Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Germany's Bundestag (Parliament) on the Baha'is of Egypt

The German Federal Parliament (Deutcher Bundestag) was questioned by a group of MPs regarding the human rights situation of the Baha'is of Egypt. The original document, written in German and dated 22 March 2007, can be viewed here, and the announcement on the parliamentarian website can be viewed here.

For Background, please refer to the following posts:

1) Egypt: No ID Card = You Are Fired!
2) No ID = You Are Fired! Revisited
3) Update on the German University Case

Thanks to Einblicke, the following is an English translation of this document:

German Federal Parliament (Deutscher Bundestag)
Document 16/4815
16th Legislative Period
22 March 2007

Small Query
of the MPs Volker Beck (Köln), Marieluise Beck (Bremen), Alexander Bonde, Dr. Uschi Eid, Thilo Hoppe, Ute Koczy, Kerstin Müller (Köln), Winfried Nachtwei, Omid Nouripour, Claudia Roth (Augsburg), Rainder Steenblock, Jürgen Trittin and the Fraction BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN [German Green Party]

Human Rights Situation of the Baha'is in Egypt

In 1960, the organised Baha'i community in Egypt was banned by President Nasser, its possessions were confiscated. This decree is effective until today. As a result, it contributed time and again to assaults, arrests and media campaigns against the Baha'is. A very serious problem is the refusal of Egyptian authorities to issue pieces of identification for Baha'is, as their religious affiliation cannot be correctly expressed. This is due to the Egyptian government's efforts to digitize the registration process, with the software only accepting the religions recognized by the government, namely: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. In a decision of the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court of 16 December 2006, this procedure--leading to the Baha'is not having the right to be correctly identified in their documents--was declared lawful. A Baha'i couple successfully challenged the procedure at a lower administrative court in April 2006; this decision was now overruled. Identification documents can thus be denied to the Baha'is. Without such documents, however, any Egyptian can be arrested at any time due to the still effective emergency act. One cannot register one's children at school, one does neither have access to medical treatment, nor can one open a bank account, receive a salary or pension, one cannot enter a contract or obtain birth or death certificates. In a recent case, a young Egyptian physicist Bassem W. was laid off the German University after not being able to present an identification document, and thus he was unable to open a bank account for depositing his salary.

We ask the Federal Government:

1. What influence does the Federal Government have regarding the systematic discrimination and persecution of the Baha'is in Egypt? What role does the media play?

2. How does the Federal Government judge the action of the German University in the case of Bassem W.? How does the German University stand in relation to Germany, and in what way is the work of the university promoted by German organisations or institutions? How does the Federal Government see the consequences of actions of the German University influencing the credibility of Germany in regards to human rights questions?

3. What role do the fundamentalist Islamic forces play regarding the treatment of the Baha'is by the Egyptian government? Which persons or institutions are in charge of the persecution of religious minorities within the Egyptian leadership?

4. How does the Federal Government judge the decision of the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court dated 16 December 2006? Does the Federal Government agree with Human Rights groups in seeing this as a precedence for a further curtailing of civil rights in Egypt?

5. How does the Federal Government judge the decision against the Blogger Kareem A. in the context of freedom of press and freedom of opinion in Egypt?

6. How does the Federal Government judge the whole complex [issue] of religious freedom within the Egyptian Government? Are there any concrete relations to the situation of the Baha'is?

7. What implication does the situation of the Baha'is have on the "deportation code of practice" of the Federal Government [regarding deportation of potential refugees from Germany]?

Berlin, 22. March 2007
Renate Künast, Fritz Kuhn and Fraction

This is indeed a bold, righteous and courageous move by these German parliamentarians. Their questions are pointed, sound, realistic and demand a clear answer. This constant interest and involvement of foreign governments in the ordeal of the Egyptian Baha'is demonstrates that Egypt can no longer live in isolation and that matters of Human Rights belong to the whole world and not only the concerned nation. Egypt can no longer state that "this is an internal matter!"


  1. Hoorah for these Germans! Little by little states such as Egypt will come to understand that their deeds will be exposed to the cold light of international opinions. Nations will no longer get a pass on human rights issues, even if the international machinery does not yet exist to exert sufficient influence to get them to change their behavior quickly. It is a new day.

  2. Germany in particular! If any one knows the implications of violating human rights, they are the ones that do...based on bitter past experience and history.

  3. I have to quote JFK:

    Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'...All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'

    I am an European Baha'i an today I feel I am a citizen of Berlin.

  4. The German constitution of 1919 declared the preservation of human rights in the same Reichstag building before it was burned in 1933. It is significant that the call for protection of human rights in this century also emerges again from that reconstructed building.

  5. We see many concerns based upon religions, primarily coming from the leaders of religion. For example, the Jesuits show concern regarding the competition of the growth of Islam. Likewise, as we undersand, the leaders of islam show concerns regarding the Baha'i Faith. In America, for example, only in recent years has the understanding of various religions grown (yet without a majority of relization) that Muhammad is actually a Prophet of God having any equality with Jesus the Christ; even the realization of the Prophecies of Abraham, or Krishna, or Buddha, of Zoroaster and Moses are not fully recognized, admitted or understood. Religions other than one's own are not viewed as being founded by a Prophet Who was the Revealer of God's covenant; rather they are just viewed as a religios movement, or group, or cult against that of one's chosen faith. We must end this cycle of ignorance by personal investigation. If we find a Prophet to be false, for example, we can show others wherein the error lies, which would be both a service to God and to mankind. If we find the truth and share it, in both cases we are performing a selfless act of service. Can here be harm in this, that we investigate truth to veify God's purported Messengers? I think not. Could there be harm if we recognized Them one and all, and thereby understood that religion is not ours, but God's? Or is it that we believe God sent His Prophets to seperate mankind? Therefore, come together as children of the same God and worship Him. This is the teaching of His Prophets. The purpose of Religion is to unify mankind, not to seperate them.

  6. Thanks to Bilo and Marco for reminding us of the historical context. It is amazing to see what is coming from this nation in the heart of the European continent.

    The consciousness of the oneness of humanity is on the move and is at grips with the "soldiers of negation" all over the world.

  7. Germany learned the hard way, but what is impressive is its commitment and zeal to share its painful lessons with countries that have strayed from respecting the civil and human rights of all God's children!

    What a great example of national representatives focused on protecting minorities such as the Baha'is in Egypt!

    "All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding"

  8. The passage below (in the epistle of the Blessed Beauty to the Shah) seems most relevant to the quest for truth and justice for the Baha'is in the Near East:

    "Therefore, in the exercise of the royal justice, it is not sufficient to give ear to the claimant alone. God saith in the Qur'an, the unerring Balance that distinguisheth truth from falsehood: "O ye who believe! If a wicked man come to you with news, clear it up at once, lest through ignorance ye harm others, and afterward repent of what ye have done."
    The holy Traditions, moreover, contain the admonition: "Believe not the tale-bearer." Certain of the divines, who have never seen Us, have misconceived the nature of Our Cause. Those, however, who have met Us will testify that this Servant hath not spoken save in accordance with that which God hath commanded in the Book, and that He hath called attention to the following blessed verse--exalted be His Word: "Do ye not disavow us merely because we believe in God, and in what He hath sent down unto us, and in what He had sent down aforetime?"
    (Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 118)

  9. At times, only through painful past and untold suffering would nations get to truly understand the real meaning of freedom and the value of justice. It is up to the other nations then to learn from that experience. Recall what George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote:
    "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it."

  10. Mask,
    We should always remember that "God is not in competition with Himself."


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