Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Twin Children Must Wait Longer Without Birth Cretificates

The case of the twin children Nancy and Emad got postponed until 4 September 2007 for a court decision on their fate. The question at hand is whether or not these Egyptian 14-year-old twins can obtain Egyptian birth certificates.

On 2 July 2004, Seeking Justice blog has posted a very well argued article regarding this case.

The children's Father, Dr. Raouf Hindy Halim is requesting, as a compromise, that in place of entering "Baha'i" in the religion section of the certificate, he would be content with entering "dashes" or leaving it blank.

Here is a piece of the "Seeking Justice" article:

"Several legal principles are at issue here. At the international level, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, states in Article 15 that “everyone has a right to a nationality.” Moreover, Article 2 provides that this right is guaranteed irrespective of one’s religious belief. The denial of birth certificates to these children, solely on the basis of their family’s religious affiliation, effectively denies them of their Egyptian citizenship and nationality, and the rights that accompany it, all in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

One of the internationally-recognized human rights that these children are being denied because they cannot obtain birth certificates is the right of access to public education. More specifically, Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that “everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.” Without their birth certificates, Emad and Nancy are unable to attend public school, thus depriving them of a right that is clearly guaranteed to them through Egypt’s ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The enlightened principles regarding education contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are directly echoed in Egypt’s own Constitution, Article 18 of which states: “Education is a right guaranteed by the State.” More generally, Egypt’s Constitutional Proclamation states:

The dignity of every individual is a natural reflection of the dignity of his nation, for each individual is a cornerstone in the edifice of the homeland. This homeland derives its strength and prestige from the value of each individual, his activity and dignity.

Emad and Nancy were born and raised in Egypt. Their parents and grandparents are Egyptian. What clearer example of a cornerstone of the edifice of the homeland could there be? What effect might the erosion of this cornerstone, through the denial of access to basic rights of citizenship, including education, have on the development and ultimate dignity, strength, and prestige of Egyptian society? Let us hope that the Egyptian Court rectifies this injustice on July 3."

It appears that, rather than expect another postponement on 4 September, there will be indeed a decision rendered by the court on that date. Hopefully this court will be inspired by its duty and responsibility to do justice to innocent children.


  1. How long are these brave souls going to wait in this limbo? It takes great patience and fortitude to press onwards in the face of the adversities challenging this family and the whole Baha'i community of Egypt.

  2. It's inspiring to see the courage and resolve demonstrated by the Baha'i community of Egypt. Hopefully, the courts will turn a corner and provide justice for all of Egypt's minorities. Thankyou for this informative blog (and the nice audio clips!).


  3. Let us hope the court delivers a fair verdict in September where these and other Baha'i children can obtain their birth certificates and human rights in Egypt, the cradle of civilization!

    It should be kept in mind that all they are asking is a birth certificate that does not force them to change their Faith or lie in official documents. They are asking neither for recognition of the Baha'i Faith nor for indicating they are Baha'i on the birth certificates.

    Injustices cannot endure forever, but the human cost of such injustices are staggering! The Baha'is of Egypt have demonstrated both their endurance and strength as well as love of their country!

  4. If one were to perform in one's profession in the same manner as the Egyptian courts, it would not be long before a dismissal for incompetence be forthcoming. Unless the children's country of birth is in question, there is no justification to deny birth certificates for minors who have yet to achieve the age of maturity whereby to make a conscious determination of religious faith. Baha'is do not believe in the heredity of religion; every individual is to decide upon attaining the age of maturity. This freedom to investigate all religions and make an informed and conscious decision secures the sincerity of belief, and protects against extremism and isolated adherences.

  5. ra,
    I don't think it would be fair to pre-judge what the court is going to do. Let us see first what their decision will be. There are many judges in Egypt that are professional and quite competent.

  6. What the court will do is to be seen, and it would indeed be undeserving to make assumptions as to their prospective judgment. Nonetheless, the routine postponements observed in the past with this and other cases are not what would be considered competent or customary practice, and if one considers the consequences to the disowned Baha'i citizen, negligent. As evidenced in the Supreme Administrative Court ruling of 16 December 2006, after numerous postponements – during which time new ID requirements were being stringently enforced and Baha'is were held in limbo for months, only to be further disappointed – the verdict was not only in conflict with the national constitution and committed international conventions, but the (written) content of the decision did not address the legal issues and was for the most part, an exact duplicate of a past ruling. There are fair and competent minds, but if so, their influence is not in the majority. The particular case of the twin children of Dr.Raouf is approaching a period of four years. It is beyond due time for rectification. The 4th of September will be observed by many.


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