Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Favorable Court Ruling for the Baha'is of Egypt

Yesterday, 11 November 2008, witnessed another favorable milestone for the Baha'is of Egypt. Cairo's Administrative Court ruled in favor of a Baha'i university student, Hady Hosni Al-Qousheiry, and allowed him to obtain an ID card with dashes "--" in place of religious identification.

Mr. Hady Hosni, who was suspended from the Faculty of Agriculture at Alexandria University because he was unable to obtain an ID card to remain enrolled in the university, was forced to sue for his right to obtain this official document. As required by law, a new computerized ID card is necessary for acquiring a military draft postponement certificate needed for continuation of enrollment in higher education.

This court action is similar to the 29 January 2008 court action that allowed other Baha'i litigants to obtain ID cards and birth certificates, which is awaiting a final decision on the 15th of December by the Supreme Administrative Court because of a non-party appeal to the ruling.

This recent court decision should be regarded as a very significant one. This is because it affirms, again, the trend and the general leaning of the courts that favor finding a just solution to the dilemma of the Baha'is of Egypt. It also conforms to the constitutional guarantees of equal rights to all citizens of Egypt. In its decision, however, the court qualified these constitutional guarantees. It affirmed that "freedom of belief" is unrestricted and is a right for all humans, but that "freedom of religious practice" is regarded as limited to Egypt's only "three recognized religions," i.e. Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The question is: how could one separate "religious belief" from "religious practice?"

P.S. See Egyptian media coverage here....


  1. Ya Bahá'u'l-Abhá!!
    This is a great notice!!!
    this is actually a big step!

  2. Great news. Well done to all those involved in the various court cases, and in the publicity work
    - Sen McGlinn

  3. Indeed! For Baha'is, there is no dichotomy between "religious belief" and "religious practice" be is to do. When we accept Baha'u'llah, we choose to live the Baha'i life, abide by Baha'i laws, strive to develop our spiritual strengths and improve our character, and to serve His Cause in individual and collective action.

  4. It is worthwhile to note that the court indicated that the Baha'is are not free to practice their religion outside their homes.

  5. I would not call this a victory.

    In one hand the court states that an Egyptian Citizen (who happens to be a Baha’i) can not be deprived of his citizenship rights and therefore has the right to hold an ID card.

    On the other it reaffirms the non recognized religious communities should live hidden from public eyes (I imagine this last statement was issue to calm down those radicals from Muslim Brotherhood).

    Let us say this was half-victory.

  6. Perhaps it should not be looked at in terms of "victory" or not, but rather as an important ruling that, while favorable in terms of citizenship rights, it betrays lingering barriers to religious freedom in a society that remains shackled with superstitions and complex prejudicial misconceptions.

  7. dear bahi friends
    the comment of the court in this case is much better than verdict 29-1-2008 . you must know that they are afraid from islamist & for that they wrote some difficult sentenst against us but except that i feel that the government will give us our rights may be in the new year 2009:

  8. concerning the Islamists[sic]...

    There is an American proverb that states

    "there is a cure for ignorance but there is no cure for being stupid"

    maybe the court needs to grow a backbone....

  9. It is essential to recognize at this juncture that the authorities are left with no other options but to grant the Baha'is their due civil rights--quite soon. One is comforted to perceive that this is indeed the government's intention.


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