Instead of translating the article, the following are my conclusions based on the information provided in that interview:
There must be separation between citizenship and belief—they cannot be interconnected. Each Egyptian citizen must be entitled to ALL citizenship rights. Presently, all Egyptian Bahá’ís are deprived of their citizenship rights simply because of their belief. They are denied government-issued ID cards which are a necessity in order to continue to live in Egypt as a human being. Nothing in normal daily living can be accomplished without these ID cards.
Egyptian Bahá’ís have always served their country and fellow citizens with absolute loyalty and sincerity. As law-abiding citizens, they have always had contributed to their society in professions, sciences, commerce and fine arts. One of the members of the community, Mr. Hussein Bikar has been recognized as a national treasure and awarded the highest prize in the land: President Mubarak’s Prize in Fine Arts.
In Egypt, it appears to be perfectly acceptable for the government to force the Bahá’ís to pay taxes like all other citizens, but seems to have no hesitation in depriving them of all their civil rights and all services due to them. The authorities cannot demand taxation from Bahá’ís with nothing in return. Is there any justice in this? This fact alone raises a very big question! One would expect that ID cards (and the national ID number) must be used in order to pay taxes!
Meanwhile, a misguided Human Rights Committee of the Egyptian Parliament just announced the outcome of its deliberations regarding the ID card issue. In an article published in the front page of Al-Dostour Al-Youmy Egyptian newspaper on 8 May 2007, the decision of that committee of the parliament was revealed, announcing that it has denied the entry of any religion on ID cards other than the three recognized “divine” religions in Egypt, i.e. Islam, Christianity & Judaism. It also refused to eliminate religious classification from Egyptian ID cards, quoting the usual baseless reservations and rhetoric regarding personal status laws (addressed in the previous post dated 9 May 2007). Thus affirming the denial of ID cards to the Bahá’ís and any other “unrecognized” religious groups in Egypt.
Here again, is another blow to human and civil rights in Egypt, disrupting hopes for progress and tolerance and depriving Egypt from a stable, more humane and progressive society.
It is worth noting that one’s religion is only in one’s heart and is the individual’s private and personal affair. Simply stating the religion of a person on a piece of paper or a plastic card cannot truly reflect the person’s true feelings, conscience or beliefs. On the other hand, no one should ever be placed in a position to have to lie about his or her own belief or religion in order to satisfy some arcane laws that dictate the religions which can be the only ones entered in ID cards and official documents.