Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination

Dr. Muhhamad Munir Mugahed, the Executive Director of a registered NGO in Egypt, called Egyptians [Misryioun] Against Religious Discrimination, has recently posted a rebuttal of an article published on 22 December 2010 in Egypt's semi-official newspaper "Al-Ahram" that was intended to belittle the Egyptian Baha'is in their quest for their rights.

The rebuttal was published on 31 December 2010 in an independent daily Arabic news site, promoting equality, justice and progressive human values, named "Modern Discussion."

Because of the vast differences between Arabic and English grammar and vocabulary, the English translation posted below does not do the article justice, but it will provide the reader with the gist of this well thought-out and articulate rebuttal. The original article in Arabic is also linked here....

Religion is for God and Country is for All [a translation]

Al-Ahram newspaper published a strange article by Mr. Ahmed Moussa in his weekly column named "On my own Responsibility" on 22 December 2010, titled "Baha'i is not a religion...!" [The article] stating that “freedom is only for the three heavenly religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and anything else cannot be regarded as a religion.”

With the exception of the point of view of the Ministry of Interior, I do not understand what he based his strange judgment on.

The word religion from a linguistic perspective means "belief" or "path" as in the [Quranic] verse [referring to unbelievers]: "Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion" (The Unbelievers: 6). Accordingly, disbelief is a religion, the worship of idols is a religion, and any vision related to God is a religion. Of course, people differ in what they consider as a true religion, and even differ within the same religion about what they see as true faith, but this is a personal issue, and it is up to every one of us to resolve this matter for himself and decide what religion is right for him, and what is the true faith for him. No one of us can impose his vision [belief or understanding] on others. And for us, Muslims, God the Almighty has revealed to us "Allah will judge amongst you on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein ye used to differ." (Hajj: 69).

Differences in religious beliefs—whether legitimate religions or doctrines—is found among human beings since time immemorial and will continue, but we should not turn this difference into disagreement, discord, and enmity. I am a Muslim, I believe strongly that the religion for Allah is Islam and that who seeks religion other than Islam will not be accepted. But at the same time I realize that there are others in this country and in the world who have contrary religious beliefs that they hold with the same conviction as I do with my own beliefs, and I acknowledge their right to uphold their convictions, and that should not constitute a hindrance in the enjoyment of their rights and personal freedoms, and their full equality with other citizens.

Mr. Ahmed Moussa criticizes Counselor Muqbel Shaker for meeting with a group of Egyptian Baha’is to discuss their grievances and their problems. He says, “these are issues that need the clergy and not civil legislators. This is the foundation of the religious State, because the clergy are the ones who will determine the legitimacy of beliefs of other religions and their rights.” I do not see here a difference between religions, "heavenly" or not. Because all religions do not recognize each other, and the followers of each religion see that the only way to Heaven is their religion or beliefs. Thus, a cleric should not be a judge and jury for other religions. On the other hand, the State has a well-defined role that does not include the admission of citizens into Paradise. Its duty is to protect the rights of all citizens on an equal footing when it comes to belief, manifestation of belief in worship whether secretly or openly, and proclamation—without restrictions or harassment—in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mr. Ahmed Moussa also criticizes the Baha'is for demanding their rights, including the declaration of their religion in official documents, and the recognition of Baha'i marriage contracts and divorce since the State has no system of civil personal status like in most countries of the world. He advises them "not to be the fork [the instrument] that foreign powers can manipulate to intervene in the matters of our country." This is blaming the victim for crying out about injustice.

If there is a genuine interest in the country's security, Mr. Ahmed Moussa and those who support him in discriminating against citizens because of their differing religions, should have cared to promote the principle of citizenship provided for in the heart of the Egyptian constitution, so that they block any gaps that predators could pass through in their attempts to attack this country, taking advantage of our mistakes which led to violating the rights of our citizens that differ in religion, race, national origin, or political affiliation. Simply to make Egypt for all Egyptians.

1 comment:

  1. It's a beautiful article, thankyou Bilo.

    The Qur'an also implies that some other religions, other than Judaism, Christianity and Islam, may be true religions:

    "The Qur'án states of unnamed Prophets, "Of other Apostles We have not told Thee." (4:162). A Zoroastrian wrote 'Abdu'l-Bahá to ask why Zoroaster was not mentioned by Muhammad; the Master referred him to Qur'án 25:40 and 50:12, "those who dwelt at Rass," explaining that Rass is the Araxes River and the reference is to Zoroaster and others."

    (Marzieh Gail, Six Lessons on Islam, p. 13)

    ReplyDelete

Your opinion is valuable. Please share your thoughts.