Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Egypt: EIPR Sues To Omit Religion From ID Cards

According to the daily newspaper "Nahdat Misr" (Rise & Renaissance of Egypt), a lawsuit was just filed in the Administrative Court by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The lawsuit is demanding the Egyptian Government to eliminate religious classification from ID cards. The article was published in today's edition of the newspaper.

The article also indicates that Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the President of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and former Secretary-General of the United Nations, will preside over a symposium which is scheduled for early August to work on the issue of omitting religion from ID cards. A previous post regarding the Symposium could be seen here.

The lawsuit is based on repeated complaints received by human rights organizations in Egypt regarding the obstacles encountered by Christians who became Muslims and later returned to Christianity, and regarding Baha'is who have been refused to enter their religion on official documents, and thus their inability to obtain ID cards.

The government refused previous proposals that had been put forth by the EIPR to omit religion from ID cards. The government based its refusal on the claim that documenting religion on ID cards would benefit its citizens in areas of inheritance, marriage, and burial rites.

Again, if a person's religion must be documented somewhere, then why not leave that to the religious authorities to whom the person belongs to provide such documentation? This process must be independent of the National ID Card system. Excuses for insistence on including religion in ID cards have been groundless.


  1. I am glad to see Egypt taking positive steps toward the possibility of deleting the category of religion from the ID card.

    The world is watching, and the decision that Egypt makes will reflect its ability to guarantee to its citizens one of the most basic human rights, the legal right to freely think and believe. The decision regarding the case of the Bahá’ís in Egypt, as you and others mentioned, goes beyond the rights of a particular religious minority. It’s the gage of the nation’s level of tolerance and civility. For the sake of, not only the Bahá’ís, but Egypt as a society, I hope that the right decision will be made and implemented.

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. As you indicate, this is a unique opportunity for Egypt to show the world in real action its respect for law, equality and the guarantee of civil rights for every human being on its land.

  3. I am impressed by your latest post of the stature of the person willing to chair the meeting, In a country as large as Egypt's population, there are certainly "enough" people of integrity and security willing to speak out.
    As a former newpaperman, this story has traction with each bit of news. This is good. Newspapers love this kind of thing. I hope that some news can be generated all the way up until the meeting time. It takes time to build up awareness in the reading public. Careful PR management can keep this story alive until the time of the symposium

  4. Thank you for your comment and suggestion. Please feel free to share the story.

  5. I realize that Egypt is heavily Sunni in its population and offical outlook, but I am wondering if the recent strife between Shia and Sunni in Iraq will begin to have its consequences in such a far away place as Egypt. I would assume that any differences are "papered over" in public for the sake of national unity. But the same was thought of the relationship of Shia and Sunni in Iraq before the war, wasn't it? So I am wondering if Egyptian Shias could one day wake up and find themselves a "minority religion" subject to scrutiny by the state. Does this enter into anyone's imagination in Egypt?

  6. Sunni consider Shia as heretic, and Shia consider Sunni as heretic. They both consider Baha’i as heretic, but Baha’i does NOT consider anyone as heretic.... Interesting!


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