Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Signs of an Enlightened Phase in Egypt's Parliament

More details regarding the retraction of a proposed parliamentary law criminalizing "Baha'i thought" in Egypt appeared in yesterday's edition of Egypt's Al-Youm Al-Sabe'h newspaper. These details clearly illustrate a progressive and enlightened trend in the Egyptian legislative branch of government. The following is not a word by word translation, but rather a synopsis of the newspaper story:

The released Parliamentary report was surprisingly contradictory to the recommendations of the Joint Commission on Defense, National Security, Arab Affairs and Religious Endowments, which considered in its meetings the call for an urgent law to "criminalize Baha'i thought." The newspaper reports that this reversal was a result of the expressed rejection by the Baha'is, followed by pressure exerted by the senior representatives of the ruling National Democratic Party to prevent the writing of such recommendation in the commission's report.

The article also mentions that of "great significance" is the fact that the new recommendations--reversing the proposed laws--carried "the opinions of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) Parliamentary faction representatives who have been refusing the law criminalizing the Baha'is from the very start." They [MB] also requested that "the men of religion" as well as "scholars" must begin an open dialogue and discussions with Baha'is, pointing out the danger of dealing with this [Baha'i] congregation with "sticks...." [symbolic]

During these discussions, the senior parliamentary leadership had also requested that the Joint Commission review articles 2 and 40 of the Egyptian constitution regarding freedoms before falling into that grievous mistake, i.e. the previously proposed law.

Another important remark was made by Mr. Essam Mokhtar, a Muslim Brotherhood representative, who stated that the manner by which the Joint Commission had held its consultation on the Baha'i question had almost caused a real crisis, clarifying that "the Commission had become judgmental of the followers of the [Baha'i] thought without allowing a chance for discussions between religious scholars and the followers of that [Baha'i] thought...." He also affirmed that the principle of citizenship and the rights guaranteed to all citizens forbid parliamentary representatives from producing legislation that stand against human rights, otherwise this type of action could "turn everything upside down."

Assuming that these reports are indeed reflective of the recent events in the Egyptian Parliament, one can only conclude that these developments are truly representative of an enlightened phase in the recent history of that body. Additionally, the reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood representatives to this crisis deserves acknowledgment and respect.


  1. This is a very significant change of the thinking process of the Egyptian Parliament..

    It seems to me that they are aware that a more moderate approach to Islam and governmental affairs is critical for human society and civilization itself. If they desire to allow it to continue to exist at this treacherous phase of civilization's evolution.

  2. Dear Mr. Bilo
    This is a technical note on your blog:

    When I open your blog for the fist time I see the subject of - Signs of an Enlightended Phase in Egypt’s Parliament-.

    When I open your blog for the second time or if I click refresh button or I click on F5 keyboard
    I get your blog with the second subject of - the Egypt we all miss in coming through!

    It means that the request changed from one subject to the other.
    It would be great if you inform your provider with this issue.

  3. algwahers,
    I tried to replicate what you just said using two different browsers (IE & Firefox) and did not have the problem you described. You may want to check the settings on your browser or delete the cookies.

  4. It's important the western Bahá'ís be aware to pressionate different organizations to protect the Bahá'ís in some Muslim countries.
    Our communities have grown because the contacts we have had with our governements to protect Bahá'ís in Iran or Egypt.
    We are very gratefull for your detachment.

    And because all of you are nice people will forgive the damage I did to english language.

  5. It is nearly two years since the last comment on this blog. What is the position of the Baha'is in Egypt now. I personally met a Baha'i who had his toenails ripped off in one Nasser's gaols and was eventually forced to leave the country although his Egyptian family were educated and apolitical. The family had been Baha'is for several generations. I also have known several Greeks and Lebanese Christians whose families were squeezed out of their businesses by a process of ethnic cleansing... So I have always been interested in any laws promoting tolerance for those of different faiths and nations in Egypt. Any progress is to be welcomed.

  6. Much has happened. Please go to the main site address for updates:


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