Friday, April 03, 2009

The Storm of Religious Strife Lingers in Egypt

Al-Hurra TV channel aired on its news program an extensive interview with Mr. Hossam Bahgat, the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). This organization has been taking the lead in defending the rights of the Baha'is of Egypt, particularly during the past five years. There is not enough credit that can be attributed to the unrelenting and courageous work this young activist organization has undertaken, particularly doing so while faced with a very strong national current of religious extremism and amidst a hostile public opinion.

Attorney Adel Ramadan with a villager

The case of the Baha'is of Egypt is not exactly a case that can be seen as a popular cause to defend, especially under these conditions and in a society marred with bigotry and resounding adherence to long-standing misguided dogma. Fortunately, for Egypt's sake, there remain people like these heroic individuals who have taken on such desperate causes and such convoluted cases.

Another person, also a member of EIPR, that has been in the forefront of this struggle--defending the Baha'is--is a young lawyer, named Adel Ramadan, who has selflessly and tirelessly devoted all his legal prowess to the multiple litigations before Egyptian courts, including the Supreme Administrative Court. He has been working very quietly, sticking to his message with great effectiveness and solid outcomes. He has never hesitated or given-up, even under the most disappointing and discouraging times that he frequently encountered during this long-fought battle of good versus evil.

Al-Hurra TV interview:

Continued post....

Ahmad El-Sayyid, Showraniyah Baha'i, exiting prosecutor's office

The storm of religious strife lingers over Egypt and the media in the entire region are taking note of the recent unprecedented and exceptional hostilities towards the Baha'is of Egypt. An example of this is an article published in al-Masry el-Youm with a somewhat misleading headline stating, "Baha'i Mass Escape from Sohag." It must be noted that Sohag is a very large Egyptian province with many inhabitants. Yes, there are Baha'is in that province, but no, there has not been a "mass escape" from Sohag. The only ones known to have left the area were those from the infamous village of Showraniyah. This article, published today, was written by Ahmed Shalabi and Abdel Aal Talaat in Arabic, and was then translated into English by the newspaper. The English version is posted below in its entirety.

N.B. Except for Adel Ramadan's picture posted above (credit: al-Masry El-Youm), the accompanying photographs have been added by the author of this blog.

Baha'i Mass Escape from Sohag

By Ahmed Shalabi and Abdel Aal Talaat 3/ 4/ 2009

Baha'ism followers in Shuraniya Village, Sohag, carried out a mass fleeing to Cairo after the village set fire to five of their homes, Al-Masry Al-Youm has learnt.

An official security source, who declined to be named, said the Baha'i homes have been put under security guardianship after their residents fled to Cairo. Sohag is home for 182 Baha'is, said the source.

Dr. Basma Moussa, a Cairo Baha'i, exiting prosecutor's office

Another source said the Baha'is 13 years ago took Shuraniya Village as a foothold to spread their ideologies as initiated by a man named Abdel Sami'e Sayed Abul-Ela and his brother Ahmed. They co-opted many followers, patricianly from the villages of al-Kabir and al-Sa'aydah.

Shuraniya, a small isle in the middle of the Nile, turned into barracks. Tight security was imposed, and the village inhabitants were banned from entering or exiting.

The media was also banned access to the village. 16 police cars, 6 armored cars and 4 fire engines were at the site, plus scores of secret policemen.

A meeting was held between Maghagha Local Council head and some policemen and leaders of influential families, who said the presence of Baha'is in the village was unacceptable by many.

Al-Masry Al-Youm visited the apartment of a Baha'i in al-Zahra'a area only to discover that he left it two days ago at dawn, according to the story told by the villagers. It also visited another two families in Husni Rashed area but they declined to talk.

Some Shuraniya people said Baha'i followers have good relations with all people in the area and were in good terms with everybody. They also said everybody should remain free to embrace whatever faith they want.

Meanwhile, 11 persons from Shuraniya were released after they were arrested on charges of attacking the homes of Baha'is one day before the fire. Some Baha'i followers and 6 human rights organizations yesterday lodged a request, calling on the Public Prosecutor to immediately look into the attacks on their houses in Sohag.

P.S. More media coverage: BBC, Reuters, LA Times


  1. Attorneys Adel Ramadan and Hossam Bahgat are true modern heroes that every country should be proud of. May God bless and protect them and grant them success.

  2. BTW, I recall that Mr. Hossam Bahgat has a degree in political science. Since his work in human rights has undergone tremendous growth, I am told that he had decided to also go into law. They are excellent examples of people who indeed care for Egypt and do love it so much--that is why they do what they do.

  3. As an Egyptian Muslim, I am sorry for what happened and I feel for all those who suffered. Some idiots who know nothing about their own religion think that Egypt is only for one religion or that Islam calls for its followers to get rid of non-Muslims, while it clearly teaches co-existance. I really hope the government takes out the religion section of our IDs. I also hope you realize that this is the doing of a few and that we all have the right to live as equal citizens of this country. It is clear that the terrible political situation in Egypt is having citizens turn against each other instead of working together to realize freedoms and a better future for the country. The gov does not care as long as these incidents will have ppl turn their attention from what the government is doing and as long as the regime is safe.

  4. Anonymous,
    It is because of people like you that Egypt has hope for a brighter future and for a time when all its citizens, regardless of who they are, enjoy peaceful coexistence and share in the love of their homeland.


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