Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Elimination of Religion From ID Cards Being Studied By Egypt's Government

In an article published today in Arabic, with a version in English, Al Arabiya reported that following Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court decision to allow the Baha'is obtain identification documents with no religious classification entered, the ruling National Democratic Party announced that "the government was studying the possibility of removing the religion section from all identification cards following a similar move in Lebanon."

The Arabic version of the article states the following in its title: [written in red] "After permitting Baha'is to leave it blank," then [written in blue] "Study to eliminate the religion section from personal identification documents for Egyptians."

Additionally, the second paragraph of the Arabic version, referring to comments made by the secretary of the Information Committee of the ruling National Democratic Party, states:
"Dr. Ali El-Deen Helal revealed...that the [ruling] party is universally comfortable with the verdict issued by the Supreme Administrative [Court] allowing the Baha'is their right not to enter anything in the religion section of their ID cards, leaving them blank."
In the sixth paragraph of the Arabic version, Dr. Helal points out that:
"under the umbrella of the constitutional reforms and the new direction taken by the National Party, there is nothing that will remain behind closed doors, a proof of this is the ruling issued in favor of the Baha'is, which is a final verdict that takes them back to last century, in the 1960s, when they were able to obtain ID cards without being forced to enter a religion against their will because, if that were allowed to happen, it would be against the freedom of belief which is one of the foundations of the Egyptian constitution."
Also, the ninth paragraph of the Arabic version, states:
"He pointed 'that the last ruling of the Supreme Administrative [Court] for the Baha'is is a clear verdict that establishes the true understanding of citizenship which is emphasized in the first article of the constitution, it is indeed one of our gains that affirms citizenship rights realized by Egyptian nationals, which is mandated by President Mubarak in his quest for enforcing the principle of accordance with the first article of the constitution'"

This example of progressive thinking and illumined dialogue is yet another demonstration of how the Baha'is of Egypt, through their perseverance and their dedication to a just cause, can ultimately impart their positive influence to the entire Egyptian society.

Below is the full text of the English version provided by Al Arabiya:
[credit, Al Arabiya--posted with permission]

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A move said to promote freedom of faith
Egypt may remove religion from ID cards

Groups say new move to teach Egyptians concept of citizenship (File)

CAIRO (Mustafa Suleiman)

In a step expected to cause controversy in Egypt, a ruling party official announced that the government was studying the possibility of removing the religion section from all identification cards following a similar move in Lebanon.

At a seminar called "The future of citizenship in Egypt" a member of the National Democratic Party (NDP) said the Supreme Administrative Court's ruling to mull the case was a positive step for freedom of faith.

"The idea could be faced with opposition," Dr. Alieddin Hilal, the NDP's Secretary for Mass Media Affairs, told "But we will keep working on applying the concept if [sic] citizenship and achieving equality between all Egyptians."

"The application could be a bit slow, but in the next stage and before the coming legislative elections, Egypt will witness significant changes as far as Copts and women are concerned," Hilal added.

Concept of citizenship

Dr. Hani Aziz, secretary of Egypt Lovers and Peace Society (ELPS), which organized the conference, agreed with Hilal and said that move was the first step towards educating Egyptians about the concept of citizenship.

"Citizenship means equality in rights and duties," Aziz told "It is a culture of tolerance and dialogue and it respects multiplicity."

Aziz pointed out that the concept of citizenship is emphasized in article one of the constitution and that the constitution is the main law.

At the conference, Hilal also revealed that another draft law was being mulled to allow more parliamentary representation for women in the upcoming legislative elections.

"According to the new law, two women would run for each governorate," Hilal said. "This means there will be a minimum of 50 women in the next parliament."

Hilal said he was disappointed that although the Egyptian parliament was the oldest in the region, it had the least women representation in the Arab world.

Last month Lebanon's Interior Minister Ziad Baroud issued an edict allowing citizens to remove any reference to their religion from ID cards or Civil Registry Records.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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  1. It is heartwarming to see how Egypt is progressing. Iran can learn one or two things from this.

  2. Even though its actions appear to be quite unpredictable, Iran has no choice but to conform to the acceptable standards of international law and to adhere to the covenants to which it is a co-signatory.


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