Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Egypt's Baha'i Situation: Voices of Reason

Recently, in spite of the intense campaign of opposition to the Egyptian Baha'is spearheaded by the followers of the fundamentalist movement (Muslim Brotherhood), there were several calls in the Egyptian media--by the voices of moderation and reason--for civility, equity and justice.

Yesterday, three independent authors published extensive articles in "" (Cairo News), a weekly paper published by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

The first one was written by Talaat Radwan titled, "Narrow thinking and blind prejudice: a brotherhood representative declares war on Baha'is and calls for killing them because they are apostates." The author explains how the Muslim brotherhood parliamentary representative described his proposal that "the Baha'is be taken to Kasr-el-Nile bridge, with the older ones carrying their young, and after chanting a nationalistic song, would be given the order by their leader to all jump into the Nile!" In a very intelligently written article, the author dissects the ills of the Egyptian society, including poverty, corruption, terrorist attacks, deterioration of educational standards, etc...and shows the reader how the public opinion has been diverted from its own misery, and how their attention is being forced to focus on a peace-loving and innocent group of citizens [the Baha'is] which deserves to be well treated and accepted into the Egyptian society as equals.

A second article written by Kamal Ghobrial titled, "The constitution gives them the right: Baha'is request the right not to have to lie [being forced to indicate a different religion than theirs on official documents], but did not ask for permission to practice their religion in public...." Here, the author discusses how important it is for the Baha'is to be allowed to exercise their constitutional rights to the freedom of religious belief, and practice of their religion without any interference from an archaic society. He also discusses their struggle in courts in order to be granted their rights. He speaks of the essential need for tolerance in the Egyptian society, and describes the spiritual principles of the Baha'i Faith that are in total agreement with the teachings of all Divine religions, including the ten commandments. He explains that the Baha'is should be treated according to the accepted standards of human rights.

The third article written by Bayoumy Qandil titled, "the Baha'is are Egyptians: No one should be allowed to deprive them of any of their citizenship rights." The author shows that the Baha'is--regardless of what Egypt thinks--belong to a recognized, widespread global religion exceeding five million in number. He also emphasizes that Egypt in this modern era should follow the principles of free society as was introduced by the French revolution with its known banners of liberty, equality and fraternity for every human on this earth (link to "les droits de l'ohmme").
He speaks of the parallel with the middle ages, whether in the east or in the west, with their oppressiveness, immorality, and warring brutality. He reminds us that Egypt has signed the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948 (link to Universal Declaration of Human Rights). He affirms that Egyptian courts must adhere to that obligation, as well as apply the guarantees for freedom of religious belief and practice as provided in Egypt's constitution. He then refers back to those declarations from the French revolution, later adopted by the United Nations, with their influence on the rest of the world: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

A close-up of the United Nations Charter with the Egyptian delegation in the background at the signing ceremony in San Francisco. (Credit: UN Photo # 24479)

All these independent, learned and enlightened authors refute the inaccuracies which were promoted by an aggressive campaign of disinformation that has been propagated recently among the Egyptian public. They clearly describe and confirm accurate information regarding the teachings, history and principles of the Baha'i Faith. They all conclude that the Baha'is in Egypt--regardless of what the Muslim religious establishment thinks or publicly declares--deserve the right to their absolute freedom and full rights to citizenship in their own country.


  1. Wonderful to learn of these courageous voices of reason and justice!

  2. Particularly in an official paper!

  3. Thank you for providing these translations and historic pictures. It is a very rich and informative blog.

  4. Thank you for keeping us informed as to what the press is reporting. It is good to know that there are voices of reason who recognize the need for justice.

  5. It is so frefreshing to have such courages writers who speak out with the voices of reason. Egypt needs a lot more of these voices to speak out on behalf of all minorities, not only the Baha'is who suffered for decades. All they want is to have their basic human right to obtain an ID so they can go about their daily lives serving humankind, is that too much to ask?
    - Felicity


Your opinion is valuable. Please share your thoughts.