Monday, November 20, 2006

Egypt: Supreme Court Refers Baha'i Case To Plenary

In its session today, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court ruled to postpone a decision again on the government's appeal of the lower court's ruling that granted the Egyptian Baha'is their rights to correctly enter their religion on official government documents and the newly instituted computerized ID Cards. The court referred the case to a Plenary for a hearing scheduled on 2 December 2006.

This ruling was not unexpected considering the complexity of the case and, perhaps, the current efforts by the Egyptian government to follow a course of promoting democracy, assuring equal civil rights, applying guarantees for freedom of belief, and its move towards progressive constitutional reforms as stated in President Mubarak's recent speech addressing the nation.

Egyptian Baha'is continue to be denied the required identification documents and are in a precarious position as the deadline for enforcing the new ID Card system approaches on 31 December 2006. They are unable to obtain or renew their driver's licenses, unable to open bank accounts, unable to register with the draft board, unable to be admitted to universities, unable to obtain birth or death certificates, unable to obtain passports, unable to travel, unable to obtain marriage certificates, etc....

In other words, because of this ongoing "chase," Baha'is who are citizens of Egypt continue to be denied all their civil rights which are guaranteed to them by the current Egyptian Constitution.

It is time for the Egyptian Government to step in and correct this injustice....


  1. Some judges and lawyers in Portugal use to delay a decision in order not to take any difficult decision at all.

    I wonder if the same thing happens in Egypt.

  2. This case is far too complicated to draw any conclusions from these delays. In a way, it is a good sign that they do not rush to a decision that will ultimately have a huge impact on the country. I think that they are sticking to the rules and procedures, and will need to hear all arguments from both sides before making a ruling.

    An attorney explained to me as follows:
    A case of this kind has to be prepared by one of the judges before it is examined by the full court. In the plenary session the court will hear a summary of the arguments prepared by the Judge who was in charge of its preparation. The lawyers will then have the chance to plead their case and if need be present written memoranda. Then the court will adjourn in order to examine the documents, review the arguments and deliberate on the merits of the case. Its decision will be delivered later on after the judgment is written and approved by the majority of judges.

  3. Bilo,
    I was thinking if you would like to talk about this subject not just on a blog but in a winter or summer school im Portugal.
    We should invite more two guests.
    I'll invite Manuel José and Marco Butro Galli.
    What do you think?

  4. Thank you for the invitation. Perhaps in the summer, as all my time has been taken up this winter. When in the summer is the school held?

  5. I used to be in the beginning of August - first week.

  6. Hello Joao,

    This sounds good. Since this time of the year is in high demand, it would be best if I reserve it ASAP. Would you be able to tell me the exact date so that the time off can be guaranteed?


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