Monday, March 19, 2007

BBC World Service on the Baha'is of Egypt

On Sunday, 18 March, BBC World Service [no longer available] aired its broadcast regarding the Baha'is of Egypt in its half hour program named Heart & Soul. One can listen to the program using Real Player at this link [no longer available].

The following is an introduction to the program, published on the BBC website:

"There are about seven million Bahais living in more than two hundred countries around the world. The faith first arrived in Egypt in the 1860s, and was recognised as a religion. But now the Bahais are struggling to assert their rights as Egyptian citizens. As the small community of Bahais prepare to celebrate their New Year this week, Eva Dadrian finds out about their religion, and why they are facing daily discrimination.

When the Egyptian government introduced new computerised Identity Cards, it forced its citizens to choose from only 3 religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam. To get ID cards, followers of Bahai are now having to lie about their religion. Heart and Soul finds out how they are trying to fight to gain recognition for their Bahai faith."

Comment: it is important to stress that the statements made by those individuals opposing the Baha'is later in the program, reflect expressions that were simply their own personal opinions and interpretations. They had no theological foundation or supporting scholarly proofs to their claims--they were only personal judgments. For example, when they stated that the "Baha'i Faith is not a religion," one must realize that it is not up to these individuals to make that dogmatic determination or judgment, and wrap it to the audience in the guise of a known--taken for granted--fact.

Near the end of the program and voiced from the courtroom, an argument was made by an Islamist fundamentalist who attempted to make a case that, since the Supreme Court had ruled against the Baha'is then it was fait accompli, and he implied it as a final judgment on the Baha'i case. Again, the facts before us demonstrate that the court had not addressed the case before it, i.e. the civil right of the Egyptian Baha'is to be issued ID cards, but rather attempted to rule on the legitimacy and the divine origin of the Baha'i Faith. This was neither under its jurisdiction nor what the court was asked to decide on in the appeal before it. Instead of hearing the merits of the current case, the court had simply repeated--verbatim and without even minor editing--previous statements made, decades earlier in older court rulings, on unrelated cases brought before the Egyptian courts regarding the struggle of the Egyptian Baha'i community in its quest for equal treatment and justice.


  1. Thanks Bilo, I look forward to listening to this. I'm a great admirer of the BBC. It is sad in a way that the opponents of the just civil rights of the Baha'is consistently betray their lack of intellectual integrity as they fail again and again to summon a single reasoned argument to justify what is happening to the Baha'is and rely on propaganda, the same kind of propoganda that has been and is still being used by some to discredit Islam and Muslims. I have yet to hear how a religion that primary teaching is unity can be a threat to any nation or people.

  2. The Egyptian Government officials who will not stand by their words to protect the rights of the Bahais
    sadly remind me of this ficticious creature...
    Furthermore, The Fundamentalists who Oppose the Bahais and their rights remind me of this ficticious creature
    as described by this American cartoonist.

    However I do not take lightly the struggles that the Egyptian Bahais face... but I read these comics as
    a stress release device...

  3. You are both quite correct! In a day or two I'll publish a post showing the current rhetoric or "party line" being propagated by those in authority. Prejudice seems to induce blindness and deafness and people become totally insular and unwilling to admit to anything but their own persuasions. Fortunately, this is not what determines a "final outcome." Much more powerful forces manifested in God's own greater plan are always at work.

  4. Thank you Marco...I also join the President in wishing you a happy Naw-Ruz as he stated in this message....

    It is quite telling to see the difference in how various countries look at diversity. Here is an example: "America is strengthened by the rich cultural diversity of our people, and we are blessed to be a Nation that welcomes individuals of all races, religions, and cultural backgrounds. Celebrating Nowruz honors the values of family and tradition and helps preserve the unique fabric that makes up our country."

  5. The above quote is from President Bush's message.

  6. Happy naw ruz to all bahai in Egypt & whole world &happy new bahai year & happy mother's day for Egyptian women please today i recived several calls, SMS & e mail message from different non bahai friends that add happiness to my soul & I found a nice congratulation for bahai in this site that i want to share with me:

  7. The above comment refers to an article in Copts United publication that congratulates the Baha'is on their Naw-Ruz celebration and the Baha'i New Year. The article promotes acceptance of the Baha'is within the Egyptian society, addresses their ongoing struggle and raises questions regarding the injustice done to them in Egypt. The article reflects the true public opinion of a segment of the Egyptian society known for its moderate views and enlightenment. The article can be seen at this link....


Your opinion is valuable. Please share your thoughts.