Sunday, January 27, 2008

Egypt's Baha'is Mentioned in the British Parliament

Photo by Deryc Sands © Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of Parliament

Barney Leith posted in his blog "Barnabas quotidianus" on a recent significant debate in the British Parliament. The case of the Egyptian Baha'is was brought-up in relation to the Foreign Affairs Committee's Eighth report of 2006-07 Parliamentary session on global security in the middle east. During the session of 25 January 2008, Bob Spink MP of Castle Point said the following:

Again, I congratulate the Committee on this excellent report on a difficult matter.

I shall speak on a narrow subject. In chapter 5 of the report, on Egypt, I note that the part entitled “Human Rights and Democratisation” does not address a certain issue. I understand the Committee’s difficulty in visiting every point on human rights, but minority rights in Egypt are important, and I wish to flag them up.

The inception of a new system of computerised ID cards in Egypt compelled its citizens to identify themselves as members of one of three constitutionally recognised religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Members of Egypt’s Baha’i minority have been unable to register as citizens of their own country. On 16 December 2006, the Supreme Administrative Court upheld the Government’s position that forces Baha’is either to falsely claim to be a member of a religion or go without an ID card. Egyptian Baha’is are therefore unable to register the birth of their children, denying those children access to education, jobs and medical treatment. They are effectively unable to live as citizens in the country of their birth. That is a minority issue, and it is understandable why it is not covered in the report. Other religious groups in Egypt, including the Copts, who have changed their religion, have also faced a problem in getting ID cards.

Denying fundamental freedoms to Egyptian citizens on that basis appears to be a breach of Egypt’s obligations under article 18 of the international covenant on civil and political rights, as was asserted in a recent report by Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. It would be useful for future reports of the Foreign Affairs Committee to examine minority rights, if possible.

To read the rest of the debate, please visit Barney's blog at this link....


  1. The Egyptian authorities would like the public to believe that the Baha’i issue is a minority problem, this way creating a disconnection from the rest of the population- as it is harder to sympathize with people we do not identify with. It is a concept that is unfortunately repeated in this article and it is missing a crucial point.
    The dilemma that the Baha’is face is not a “minority” issue. The Baha’is might be in small numbers as far as their beliefs but this is irrelevant. They are NOT a minority as citizens. They are born in Egypt and as such are fully entitled to all the benefits that citizenship bestows to all 72.6 million Egyptians they happen to be a part of. The issue goes further than discriminating against a minority, it is the unlawful creation of a special category of citizens not backed by the Egyptian constitution.
    These people might be Baha’is but they are unmistakably EGYPTIAN Baha’is.

  2. The Egyptian constitution guarantees the rights of all minorities. The problem is that, in this case, the constitution being entirely ignored and its articles violated.

  3. Not withstanding the theatrics of shameful troublemakers in the court room last Tuesday, let us hope that recent reflections by the European Parliament and the British Parliament could show Egypt its current image when it comes to treating its Egyptian minorities. That image can dramatically change tomorrow if the Supreme Administrative Court delivers a fair verdict granting the Baha'is their right to obtain ID cards within Egyptian law. Otherwise, ignoring Egyptian Baha'is fundamental rights will continue to haunt the Egyptian government's image as a country that does not respect human rights including those of its own sons and daughters! Let them issue ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, driver licenses, and military service documents to all Egyptians regardless of their religious convictions or beliefs!

  4. Nabil, thank you for your timely comment. Tomorrow is the day! Would we have another postponement, a verdict for the rights of the Baha'is as Egyptian citizens or would it be another disappointment? Time will tell....

  5. ان ما يحدث للبهائيين في مصر يعتبر فضيحة لدولة مصر على مستوى العالم

    ندعو الله ان يكون هناك حل غدا مرضى لجميع الاطراف

  6. من يسمع صوت المظلومين وهم سكاري بالدين
    الدين للانصاف مش للبطش في المساكين
    الله يكون في عون المظلومين البهاءيين
    مش الدين لله والوطن للشعب اجمعين
    والا الدين وسيلة اغتصاب للمتعصبين
    الله لا يسمح بالاكراه في الدين ولو جه من المتدينين
    الله اكبر من كل الظالمين

  7. i havenot any more comment
    please pray for Egyptian Governement& for Egypt


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