The article, titled Egyptians Face Trial for Incitement Against Baha’is, and published on 6 April 2009, goes on to state:
The journalist, Jamal ‘Abd A-Rahim from the pro-government daily Al-Gumouriyya, and the MP, Muhammad Yusri from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), are being questioned about their role leading to the burning of Baha’i homes last week.Read more here....
Residents of A-Shouraniyya, located in the Sohag governorate about 345 kilometers south of the capital Cairo, set fire to houses belonging to Baha’is last Thursday and forced them out of town.
Molotov cocktails were hurled at their homes and the water was cut off to prevent them from putting out the flames.
The police soon arrived and helped the Baha’i families flee the premises.
Twenty residents of the town who allegedly took part in the assault have also been summoned to court.
‘Abd A-Rahim is being accused of inciting against the Baha’i after he published an inflammatory article in which he described them as apostates who rejected Islam. Yusri expressed support for ‘Abd A-Rahim’s statements.
Thursday’s was the second attack on Baha’i homes in a week. During a similar attack in late March, the assailants chanted against the Baha’is, calling them “enemies of Allah.”
Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said these latest attacks were unprecedented.
The Baha’i community has had problems with the state in terms of being stripped of its legal status, having property confiscated or being prosecuted for contempt of religion, he said.
“But this is the first time we’ve documented physical assaults on Baha’i homes or property.”
Last week’s incident was a setback for Baha’i freedom in Egypt, especially since it came two weeks after this minority made a significant legal gain.
On March 16, an Egyptian court ruled that the “religion” field on national identity cards could be left blank.
Up until that decision, Baha’is had to identify themselves on their ID cards as being Muslim, Christian or Jewish, and cards would not be issued for whoever refused to be labeled under one of these three religions, effectively rendering them non-citizens.
“Unfortunately these attacks marred the positive reaction that the court ruling received,” Bahgat said.
There is no official data as to the number of Baha’is in Egypt, but unofficial data puts their number somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 believers.