Monday, July 31, 2006

An Egyptian Baha'i: In Search Of Recognition (Cont. 2)

Mustapha had filed his lawsuit in January 1950, requesting a salary adjustment that would reflect his family allowance dating back to his wedding date of 20 march 1947, and another cost of living adjustment dating back to the birth of his son on 1 January 1948. He had also requested to be reimbursed for the cost of the lawsuit.

The litigation was highly publicized and continued until a judgement was reached in June 1952. Several issues were raised during the trial. In particular, after obtaining a "Fatwa" from Sheikh al-Azhar, the government counter-attacked by accusing the plaintiff of apostasy. It even went as far as demanding Mustapha's execution and the imprisonment of his wife for allegedly marrying an apostate. The government defense also asserted that his marriage must be nullified and that his son was illegitimate.

Mustapha's legal team argued that the Egyptian Constitution guaranteed him the right to freedom of religious belief, that Egypt was a co-signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that he was entitled to equal treatment under the law. The court responded by asserting that the United States was also a co-signatory to the same declaration but has been discriminating against blacks, therefore Egypt was under no obligation to apply its principles.

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)

The court used the trial to viciously attack and misrepresent the Baha'i Faith, and had maneuvered, in various ways, to try to implement the punishment for apostasy on Mustapha and his family. It called for his execution, the imprisonment and the beating of his wife until her death, and the killing of his son on reaching the age of maturity, since the Shariah law declared that the son of an apostate should also be considered as an apostate unless he recants.

So far in this case, Mustapha had simply requested that he should be given a family allowance and cost of living increase after the birth of his son. Instead he had been declared an apostate, his marriage was considered null and void, and his son was declared illegitimate and also deserved to be killed!

To be continued....


  1. Dear Bilo,

    I will be definitely checking your blog tomorrow hoping to read the rest of this amazing story!

  2. I can only relate this kind of behavior to what I saw, as the child of a white middle-class family, the treatment of Black Americans in the South of the US after WWII. I was white, so in this case here I would be a similar minded Egyptian Muslim. I was taught that Black folks were troublemakers, so in this case I would represent those who see Bahais as eccentric, or trouble-causing. In those days I was happy with the way things were in my comfortable, small Southern US town, middle-class world, So now I would represent such a Muslim who knows no foreigners, knows no one except people of their own class, and neighborhood, and religous community. I was taught that if Blacks wanted to participate in society they should be quiet and respectful of the rights of "their betters"--this meant us white folks, then they would get what they deserved, better treatment. But they shouldn't go and compete with white folks for the same job! They can sweep the floors and wash the dishes, that's ok. If I were the same in Egypt I would say the same goes for Bahais. And of course I knew no respectable person who wanted to attend any school, or church, or eat in any restaurant that served black people! I mean they could come around back and be served in the kitchen. They could go to their own schools out in the hollers. They can go to their own churches..So if I were one sort of Egyptian Muslim I would say the same thing. Let's treat the Bahais just like the American bigots in the North and South wanted to treat the Black people. Those American bigots were not the majority, and I know the same is true in Egypt, but they were loud and noisy and not enough in the white, soft and silent majority, at that time, had the guts to fight against them. Well there were voices, but you didn't hear them in the 1940's, 50's or 60's where I lived.

    So the behavior of Egypt is nothing worse or better. It is very interesting that the government uses this schoolyard defense of its own actions, by pointing to US behavior towards its citizens. This shows alot of things. It does show the standard the rest of the world at one time expected of the US. It took some trouble-causing people to remind us of the true nature of our souls.

    Later when I was a college student I met some elderly Black Americans living far back in the woods of South Carolina...Frogmore, South Carolina. I recommend you visit there some time. They told us that if we thought the 1950-60's were bad, we should have been alive in the 1920's-30's! Thank God for WWII. If it wasn't for the needs of the US military for WW2 the Black people in American would have been far, far worse off than they were in 1960's"

    Egypt will learn the true nature of its soul just like US society had to. This will be an opportunity for a few to stand up above the masses and reflect light not darkness. Then later, we will all wonder, "How did they do it?"

  3. Thank you for your wise, insightful and thoughtful comment. If we learn to reflect on the past with pure motives, history can teach us a lot and would help us do the right thing.


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