Saturday, December 16, 2006

Egypt Plunges Deeper into the Abyss

A sad day for human rights: A sad day for Egypt

In the midst of media frenzy, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled in favour of the Ministry of Interior’s appeal, and to reverse the lower court’s ruling of 4 April 2006 that favored the Baha'is right to being identified as such for the purpose of official documents. It also ordered the Bahá’í couple who had initiated the original lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior--demanding to be granted the right to obtain identification documents--to pay all court costs.

Present in and outside the courtroom were those who support the Bahá’ís in their plight. They were carrying large signs of blown-up old ID cards of Egyptian Bahá’ís—highlighting the word "Bahá’í" and the word "Egyptian" written on the cards. Another man was carrying a sign stating that he is a Muslim, believing in Muhammad, but that he also supports the rights of the Bahá’ís to be recognized and be granted equal civil rights. There were many bloggers, human rights activists and free thinkers who had come for a stand-in outside the courthouse in solidarity with the Bahá’ís.

Also present in and about the courtroom, were extremist Islamists and their attorneys voicing their hatred and resentment of the Baha'is.

National and international major television and radio news agencies as well as all newspapers, and news service agencies were present in the courtroom filming, interviewing and reporting on this event.

There was tight security. Barriers were placed, armed national security anti-riot troops were deployed and surrounded the courthouse.

After the verdict was announced, several Bahá’ís were interviewed by the news agencies present for this event.

Al-Jazeera news channel asked one of the Baha'is for an interview before the court session indicating to her that they already knew the verdict (being against the Bahá’ís). She declined stating that she would rather hear the actual judgement in the courtroom before she can discuss any such verdict with Al-Jazeera.

When the verdict was announced, many of those present in the courtroom shouted “Allah’u-Akbar,” and “Long Live Justice!"

Naturally, the Baha'is are a bit disappointed, but do understand that this crisis will ultimately lead to many victories, many of which can be seen already--a direct result of their suffering.

As a direct consequence of this verdict, the Baha'is continue to have no rights in their own homeland. They cannot obtain ID Cards, they cannot obtain birth certificates, they cannot obtain death certificates, they cannot obtain marriage or divorce certificates, they cannot obtain passports, and they cannot obtain any other official documents.

Without all this, Egyptian Baha'is cannot be employed, cannot be educated, cannot be treated in a hospital, cannot travel, cannot obtain any social services, cannot be legally married, cannot be declared dead, cannot open a bank account, cannot obtain a driver's license, cannot vote, cannot purchase a property, and the list goes on.... And, yes they can be arrested on the spot for not carrying an ID Card!

It is now up to the Egyptian government to step in and end this atrocious violation of all known values, all known civil and human rights. It is time for it to recognize its own law-abiding citizens according to its own constitutional guarantees.

Press Release:

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Right to Privacy Program
Press Release- 16 December 2006

Government Must Find Solution for Baha'i Egyptians

Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court today found the government may not recognize the Baha’i faith in official identification documents, leaving Baha'i Egyptian citizens unable to obtain necessary documents that must include a citizen's religion, such as birth or death certificates and identity cards.

"Today's regrettable decision throws the ball in the government's court," said Hossam Bahgat, Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which represented the Baha'is in the case. "The government must find a solution now for the hundreds of citizens who used to be able to obtain official documents recognizing their faith for more than five decades until the government decided recently to change its policy and force them to choose between Islam and Christianity."

The EIPR said the press release issued by the Chief Judge of the Court today did not respond to any of the legal arguments and evidence submitted by the EIPR in the case. The press release only discussed the tenets of the Baha'i faith, which fell outside the scope of this lawsuit. The question before the court was about the legality of forcing Egyptian citizens to falsely adopt Islam or Christianity in order to obtain official documents that are necessary in their daily lives.

Today's decision overturned an April 2004 ruling by the lower Administrative Justice Court in favor of Baha'i Egyptians. The decision also reversed the position of the Supreme Administrative Court which had found in 1983 that Baha'is had the right to have their religious affiliation included in official documents even if the Baha'i faith was not "recognized" in Egypt as a religion.

The EIPR will wait for the written decision to be issued in the coming days before determining its new legal strategy in the fight for Baha'i Egyptians citizenship rights.


  1. Could you possibly post the text of the actual (Arabic) court ruling?

  2. This has been an opportunity for the local media to "meet the Bahais", if it is true only 2000 of 65,000,000 this was a precious, opportunity, for people to have access to information that is reliable, and hear from media outlets that they trust.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, what another interesting tale. I have followed their history in Utube and Googlevideo from BBC programs.

    Yes the significance of what has happened will not be understood until the people who were there and have been covering this event are allowed time to expand upon their convictions, doubts, independent investigations of the truth. We will see some light resulting despite the verdict in January, I predict.

    Edo River rising

  3. Anonymous,
    Thus far, there is only a press release. The actual court ruling will be available in a few days.

    Edo River,
    As you know, for the past eight months there has been a tremendous amount of media coverage already, but now it is going to take on a whole new dimention.

  4. It is really interesting to see the first photo in your blog of the judge sitting and behind him a large sign with a verse from the holly Quran that says In the name of God the all merciful. If you judge among men let you judge in justice…

    Obviously God has a grandeur plan for His glorious cause and we eagerly wait with confident hearts and faithful souls. The sun of truth WILL shine and justice will prevail.

    With my sincere prayers for our Bahá’i sisters and brothers in Egypt, and more prayers
    for this darkened world to receive God’s mercy.
    Thank you dear Bilo for all that you do.

  5. This verdict will not sustain the current wave of social change that is pervading todays world order. It highlights the short sightedness and ignorance of the court.The outcome was guarded by fear and love for fundamentalism.

  6. I see the wisdom of the decision and its role in exposing the degree of injustice that fundamentalism is bringing to the world, but I can not help thinking about the impact of the decision on the everyday lives of the brave Egyptian Bahá’ís.

    I agree with the previous comment, and can not wait for the time when we can all live in peace and amity together as one human race

  7. as an Egyptian bahai
    we feel that it is God mercy & god needs more & more from us & we need ur prayer for next hard days. but be sure that we expected that from last issue 2-12-2006 but we expected any changes. this is god mercy again we must start to think
    for next step

  8. Anonymous said:
    "It is really interesting to see the first photo in your blog of the judge sitting and behind him a large sign with a verse from the holly Quran that says In the name of God the all merciful. If you judge among men let you judge in justice…"

    Obviously the judges sitting under that sign are either oblivious to its meaning or completely blinded by the lack of objectivity. For a judge to be "just" it takes an independent mind, a pure heart and ethical responsibility and integrity. Their actions clearly demonstrate the total lack of all these prerequisites.

  9. Having received the news, our National Spiritual Assembly paused in its meeting earlier today to pray for the friends in Egypt. There was a moment of deep stillness, and tears were shed. But we also recognized that this gives us further amazing opportunities.

  10. Egyptian Baha'is--living in Egypt--must be congratulated and truly admired for their courage, endurance, tenacity and absolute dedication to their beliefs. No one can imagine how deplorable the conditions they endure on a daily basis just to survive!

  11. O SON OF MAN!

    My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.

    -- Bahá'u'lláh, Hidden Words

  12. Barney,
    This is deeply touching and loving...the friends in Egypt will certainly want to hear that, and know that they are never alone.

  13. This was a shameful day for Egypt!
    But let the Baha'is in Egypt know that they are not alone!

  14. Thank you Marco, I am sure that they all appreciate your sincere feelings, and welcome your friendship.

  15. As requested by the first comment, here is the complete text of the press release in Arabic announcing the verdict. The names of the justices ruling on the case are one and the same who had produced the State's commissioner's report...thus "the fox is guarding the hens' house."

    The full text of the ruling will be available in a few days....

    الإدارية العليا
    إلغاء حكم محكمة القضاء الإداري بالاعتراف بالبهائية
    وعدم جواز إثباتها في أي مستند صادر من الجهات الرسمية في الدولة

    حسمت المحكمة الإدارية العليا أمس موضوع البهائية واصدرت حكمها بإلغاء الحكم الذي أصدرته محكمة القضاء الإداري في شهر ابريل الماضي الذي اعترف بالبهائية كديانة وإثباتها أمام خانة الديانة في شهادات الميلاد والبطاقات الشخصية وغيرها من الوثائق التي تصدرها مصلحة الأحوال المدنية .
    وقالت المحكمة الإدارية العليا في حكمها أن الدساتير المصرية المتعاقبة كفلت حرية العقيدة وحرية إقامة الشعائر الدينية ، مشيرة إلى أن الأديان التي يحمى الدستور حرية القيام بشعائرها وحسبما ورد بالأعمال التحضيرية لدستور 1923 في المادتين 12 و 13 منه اللتين تعتبران الأصل الدستوري لجميع النصوص التي تضمنتها الدساتير المتعاقبة _ هي الأديان السماوية الثلاثة ، الإسلام والمسيحية واليهودية ، أما البهائية فهي كما اجمع أئمة المسلمين وقضاء المحكمتين الدستورية العليا والإدارية العليا ليست من الأديان السماوية المعترف بها وان من يدين بها من المسلمين يعتبر مرتدا لكون مبادئها تناقض مبادئ الدين الإسلامي وأصوله ، كما تناقض سائر الأديان السماوية . وقد حرم معتنقوها الجهاد المقرر في الشريعة الإسلامية تحريما قاطعا ومطلقا ، فهم يريدون للأمم والشعوب أن تسلم عنقها لجلاديها بدون أيه مقاومة ، في مقابل كلام شاعري معسول بالدعوة إلى إقامة حكومة عالمية هي الهدف الأول والأساسي لحركة البهائية وهذا احد أسرار علاقتهم بالقوى الاستعمارية _ قديمها وحديثها _ التي تحتضنهم وتدافع عنهم . كما شرع معتنقوها لأنفسهم شريعة خاصة تهدر أحكام الإسلام في الصوم والصلاة ونظام الأسرة . ولم يقف مؤسسوها عند حد ادعاء النبوة والرسالة معلنين أنهم رسل يوحى إليهم من العلى القدير ، منكرين أن سيدنا محمد عليه الصلاة والسلام أخر الأنبياء والمرسلين ، بل جاوزوا ذلك وادعوا الإلوهية وهو ما دعا المشرع إلى إصدار القانون رقم 263 لسنة 1960 بحل جميع المحافل البهائية ومراكزها الموجودة في البلاد ، والتي قضت المحكمة الدستورية العليا بعدم مخالفته للدستور.
    وانتهت المحكمة إلى انه لما كانت البهائية لا تعد ديانة، فانه لا يجوز لمصلحة الأحوال المدنية إثباتها أمام خانة الديانة في جميع المستندات والوثائق التي تصدرها كشهادات الميلاد وبطاقات شخصية وغيرها ، كما لا يجوز أثباتها في أي مستندات رسمية أخرى تصدرها أي من الجهات الرسمية بالدولة ويكون ضمن بيانتها البيان الخاص بالديانة ، وبحسبان أن النصوص القانونية المنظمة لهذه القواعد جميعها تعتبر من النظام العام فلا يجوز إثبات ما يخالفه ويتعارض معه في بلد يقوم أصله وأساسه على الشريعة الإسلامية .

    صدر الحكم برئاسة المستشار / السيد نوفل رئيس مجلس الدولة ورئيس المحكمة وعضوية المستشارين / عصام عبد العزيز ومصطفى حنفي وعبد الحليم القاضي واحمد عبود نواب رئيس مجلس الدولة وبحضور المستشار عبد القادر قنديل مفوض الدولة وبأمانة سر كمال نجيب .

  16. I still didnt collect enough energy after this long day to write any thoughts. I have a very small comment though out of fairness since I witnessed the whole thing first-hand. The shouting bearded men were not affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. They were fanatic lawyers who decided to join the case for reasons that I assume personal to them.

    It was indeed a sad day for Egypt.

  17. What an anarchy! How could any lawyer walk off from the street and join a case? How could that happen? Who is in control of that court?

    I hear that one of them will appear on a television program this coming Tuesday to argue against Dr. Basma's scheduled interview! God Help her and give her strength...I have full confidence that she can easily handle the situation without shedding a drop of sweat!

  18. Those Baha'is who read this blog and follow the developments in Egypt should take heart from The Hidden Words (al-Kalimat al-maknunah), in which God, may He be praised, says: "O OPPRESSORS ON EARTH! Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal." This court will be judged by a higher Judge.

  19. "...for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal....."

    This is an indisputable promise of God. It is only a matter of time....


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