Friday, June 02, 2006

Egyptian Baha'is and ID Cards

ID cards in Egypt must state the person's religion. The current system will only allow a choice between three religions to be entered, namely: Muslim, Christian or Jewish. If one belongs to any other religion, one cannot obtain an ID card unless one recants and declares one of the three religions mentioned here. Faced with such a choice, a person would be forced to deny his or her own belief and, in effect, would make a false statement in violation of the law itself in order to be identified as an existing member of society. Clearly most people with any sort of self worth would not accede to this, and thus would have to suffer the consequences. This obviously does not only affect the Bahai's, but all other religions and denominations.

Because of this recently instituted computerized national ID system in Egypt, followers of the Baha'i Faith are deprived of their basic human rights, including admission to universities, obtaining birth and death certificates, marriage certificates, driver's licenses, purchasing property, obtaining public health care, employment, obtaining social services, pension and inheritance, travel documents, etc.... In other words, the Baha'is in Egypt--a significant religious minority in that country--are considered non-existent and end up as phantoms, living in the shadows.

On April 4, 2006, in response to a lawsuit brought by a Baha'i couple against the Egyptian Minister of Interior, an Alexandria court, in an historic decision, ruled that the Baha'is must be entitled to recognition, and must be allowed to enter their religion on official documents. Shortly after and following a heated parliamentary debate orchestrated by fundamentalists, the Egyptian government appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which had convened since and decided to suspend the implementation of the lower court’s ruling until 19 June 2006 when it reconvenes for a final decision. Here are two links to the lower court's decision, in English and in Arabic.


  1. Thanks for the very informative post about the situation faced by Baha'is in Egypt.

  2. You'll have to pardon my ignorance but I thought the Bahai faith was jewish? I guess by this post, it is not. What are the differences?

  3. Jeff,
    You will find more clarification in my post titled: Independent Religion. You might also find these websites quite informative:

  4. Thank you for this very informative article. By describing what is happening to the Baha'i commuity in Egypt, you are taking the situation from out of the shadows and into the light. Thank you,

  5. Your Baha'i Faith in Egypt site should be translated into Arabic, if it is not yet, and should be made prominent by search engines to refute the apparently false accusations that fill the Egyptian press nowadays. As an Egyptian who migrated many years ago, it would be an honor for me to defend the rights of Egyptian Baha'is to be treated fairly and justly. I call upon all those in leadership positions in Egypt to address the plight of their fellow citizens who are Baha'is. The Baha'is I know are the best well wishers of mankind. Let them worship in freedom so long as they do not interfere in the way that you choose to worship. La ikrah fil-din.


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