Sunday, March 11, 2007

Egypt Denies Violations of Human Rights Indicated in US Report

Cairo-- In a front page article of today's issue of Nahdet Misr newspaper, Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit, attempted to deny the violations of human rights stated in the recent US annual human rights report. He accused the report of "lying and deceiving," and stated that "America is not the guardian of human rights." he also belittled the source of the report as "having no standing since the United Nations has not given any nation the right to be the guardian of human rights in the world." The Minister described the report as a "routine publication that was prepared by those who are not aware of the facts regarding the countries reported on, including Egypt." He also said that "what the report includes regarding Egypt represents misguided vision that is built on inaccurate and incomplete information, and that some of the cases referred to are still in litigation, while others have been decided on already in courts."

He stressed that "the Egyptian government wastes no effort in studying the reports of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, and what it includes in observations and ensure the protection of the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian citizen."

He clarified that "Egyptian-American relations are important and based on mutual interests, pointing that both nations agree in their vision regarding the importance of human rights, even though there might be differences, at times, as to some matters of application which is a natural phenomenon that does not influence relations between the two countries."

The newspaper added that "the report criticised the status of religious freedom in Egypt, concentrating on the Baha'i case, the crisis of building churches and the incidents of girls' kidnapping in the south of Egypt...."

Since the Foreign Minister has now formally denied the existence of human rights violations in Egypt, one would wonder what to believe! The respected Minister, by making these statements, has now put the onus on the Egyptian government to prove once and for all that, indeed, there are no violations of human rights in Egypt. Does this also mean that the Baha'is will now be able to obtain their legitimate full civil rights and be treated as equals under the law? Does it mean that they will be now granted the rights of their Egyptian citizenship, such as being issued ID cards, of which they have--allegedly--been deprived?

Update: also see this BBC News Report.


  1. Why doesn't your link for 2006 blogs allow me to review previous blogs? THe action of clicking on the "2006" should display the previous months. But this link doesn't work the second time.

  2. Edo River,
    Is this a new problem, or has it been all along?

    I just checked it and it works fine here. It could be a problem with the brouser you are using. Try to check your security settings and other settings on the brouser. I use microsoft explorer.

    When you click on 2006, it should open a list of months underneath, and by clicking on each of the months it will display the whole month on the same page. Another way of getting to old posts is by scrolling down to the end of the current page, then clicking on "older posts," you will have 25 posts per page.

    Do other readers encounter the same problem? Input is welcome.

  3. Bilo and Edo River,

    I just checked 2006 using my Mac PowerBook and Firefox as my browser and it displays well and all the links work fine. I am not a techie, but it sound to me like a browser problem or a Pop Up blocker (though less likely).

  4. How I wish I could show the rest of the world that Egypt respects the human rights of all its religious minorities, including the Baha'is. Nothing would make me more proud to be the son of this great country that respects and protects its religious minorities including those who happen to be Baha'is.

    Unfortunately Egypt currently neither respects nor protects the human and civil rights of its citizens who are Baha'is. And this includes all three branches of government.

    I hope the Minister of External Affairs follows up on his comments and ensures that their rights are fully protected and that all Egyptians including Egyptian Baha'is are allowed to be issued their ID cards without having to resort to lying about their faith or being coerced to convert to one the three recognized religions.

  5. Nabil,
    Thanks for checking on the browser issue.

    You are correct; this is Egypt's chance to prove to the world that it truly respects human rights. Those in authority cannot repeat what they have said in the past that “these rights do not apply to Baha'is.” This rhetoric has been entirely illogical, inexplicable and is completely against all standards of justice. Aren't Baha'is humans? They tend to ignore and forget that fact!

  6. Also, since no one appears to disagree with the fact that Baha'is are human, we can then deduce that since Humans have rights, so do Baha'is must also have rights....

  7. Unless, of course, human rights refer only to rights granted to those humans who fit some prescribed criteria!

    Any exclusions from human rights and any justification of such exclusions are not excusable in the 21st century! And no country should be allowed to take exception to this fundamental principle!

  8. Nabil said: "Unless, of course, human rights refer only to rights granted to those humans who fit some prescribed criteria!"

    That, would be unheard of...I think!

  9. The only reply to Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit is to say that ALL NATIONS not just the United States are the guardians of Human Rights to all people he obviously is in a state of denial but that’s expected behavior of a dysfunctional family!!

    Or else he is more concerned to keeping his job than acknowledge the truth!

    Similarly, if you ask a mother who has a son who is a rapist or a child molester she will deny the wrong-doing of her child before she would admit to his wrongdoing! Therefore there must be an independent investigation by disinterested 3rd parties to follow up on any allegations.

  10. Anonymous said that all nations should be watching their own human rights practices. Many complaints have been filed with the human rights commission in Egypt and as it is appointed by the government of Egypt, no responses appear to be forthcoming to address the violations against Egyptian Baha'is.

    It appears that Egypt is counting on other atrocities in different parts of the world to get the attention of the world off Egypt. But the world is watching Egypt as it does other nations.

    Let us hope that restoration of the human rights of Egyptian Baha'is will occur by a presidential decree in 2007 as they were usurped by a presidential decree some 46 years ago, in 1961.

  11. Unfortunately, Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has no executive powers, and it is indeed appointed by the government as an advisory body; therefore it is not to blame for any deficiencies. As a matter of fact, the NCHR has been very supportive of the Baha'i case and has recommended a just and equitable solution for the Baha'is. It is now entirely up to the Egyptian government to enforce the Council's recommendations. The same applies to the many other (non-governmental) Egyptian human rights organizations, all of which have been very supportive as well. One of whom (Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights) took on the responsibility of representing the Baha'is in courts. The keen interest expressed by the Egyptian human rights organizations and their courageous and outspoken support for the Baha’is is unprecedented.

  12. I believe that this simply dramatizes that we are living in a political culture in which words have been drained of meaning. This is why those involved in gross human right violations can claim with a straight face that they are not. If it were not so oppressive, it would actually be amusing. Every night on the news I listen to people with the most enviable educations in the world say things they know not be true with the confidence of those who clearly do not fear divine justice in this life or the next. It's breath taking. It reminds me of this simple but profound quote, "Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues". People who persist in making untrue statements do violence to their minds and spirits and ultimately the human family.

  13. In the judicial report that revoked the previous ruling allowing for the issuance of civil documents, it is stated that the denial of civil status to Baha’is is not a violation of international human rights in that it is a preventative measure against attacks to the public order and the divine religion of Islam- “the rights and freedoms of the Egyptian Citizen”. This is the argument that the Foreign Minister is confidently founding his statements of defiance in the face of unquestionable and universal consent that the denial of civil status violates a number of human rights policies.

    Some questions would have to be asked if these points had merit. The first, would denying citizenship prevent the violator from committing acts against the public order, or would it cause even more incitement and retaliation? Has the Baha’i community ever acted in such a manner, and if it has, why has the matter not been put to trial rather than allowing the Muslim population to be exposed to their so called “corruptive influence”? Secondly, if a population of 70 M Muslims needs protection from a peaceful Baha'i community of around 1, 000, how would this policy (since Egypt sees it as equivalent or taking precedence to international human rights conventions) translate to populations in other countries where much larger numbers of Muslims reside, and more so, in light of the consistent acts of terrorism and aggression, and social incongruence that have been largely sourced to the Islamic community? The real question is, does the world community need protection, or rather, active confrontation with such sources of extremism, obstinacy, sadistic inhumanity, and plain and evident incompetence?

    It is indeed a wonder that a Muslim and a Minister - no less the Minister of Foreign Affairs - along with the large majority of Egyptian authorities, put great effort in composing language that is so obviously manipulative and evasive, in the name of God and Islam.

  14. R.A.,
    The court's argument that its ruling "does not violate international human rights covenants because Baha'is are a threat to public order" is based on false pretences--simply because Baha'is have never been a "threat to public order" in Egypt or anywhere else. It is only an excuse to justify the court's unjust and misguided ruling, and a “catch phrase” intended to raise suspicion and distrust of Baha’is among the masses. Note that no one using that accusation had ever stated what exactly this "threat to public order" is!

  15. I posted this earlier in your blog but I thought it was good enough to post again....

    Here is a list of “deviant” Activities that Baha’is “perpetrate” over a lifetime that violate “public order” in the eyes of certain government officials...

    Being Honest
    Being truthful
    Being open-minded
    Treating animals with respect
    Treating other Human beings with respect
    Showing love to strangers
    Being a loyal citizen to their government
    Not Drinking Alcoholic Beverages
    Not Smoking Opium
    Not Smoking Hashish
    Not Gambling
    Not disrespecting their parents
    Not engaging in promiscuous sexual activity
    Not engaging in divisive political activity

    but of course some people cannot allow such behavior because it would cause Peace to break out

  16. The challenge is what to do with an administration that is corrupt, incompetent and deceptive. There is no other country, with the possible exception of Iran, that denies its citizens civil documents. A possible path to pursue would be the International Criminal Court. Its jurisdiction covers genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Its formation was initiated by the General Assembly, which convened a conference in Rome in June 1998, finalizing a treaty, "the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court". As of January, 2007, 104 countries have ratified or acceded to the court.

    Qualifiers or definitions considered as crimes against humanity are:

    • Offences that constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings

    • They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority

    • Murder, extermination, torture, rape, political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice

    The four methods by which a case may reach the ICC are:

    • A state party refers the case;

    • A country that has chosen to accept the Court's jurisdiction refers the case;

    • The United Nations Security Council refers the case; or

    • The three-judge panel authorizes a case initiated by the ICC Prosecutor.

    Since the offences committed against the entire Baha'i community are not isolated or sporadic events, but are systematic, premeditated and recurrent, and are further being vindicated as being in accord with the Egyptian Constitution, this would qualify the Egyptian government as enforcing policies that are crimes against humanity.

  17. R.A.

    Unfortunately Egypt is not a signatory to the court. See the co-signatories.

    There should be a way to bring this government to its senses in granting the Baha'is their dutiful rights as citizens and protecting all its minorities from being singled out for public inquisitions, unfair treatment, and denial of existence of men, women, and children based solely on their beliefs.

  18. Actually, Egypt is the only country that refuses to issue ID cards to its Baha'i citizens....

  19. Nabil,
    To my knowledge, a country does not have to be a co-signatory to the court to be brought up before the court.

  20. Nabil,

    This is true, Egypt is not a signatory, however, there is an exception whereby a situation is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. This does require further investigation as to the requisites and procedures for such an application.

  21. e.g. the Darfur situation is before the court even though Sudan is not a co-signatory.

  22. Thanks Bilo for your kind response. I found that my Firefox browser loads all 125 postings into one continuous page. This takes some time, and I didn't notice it was doing that. I was focused on the sidebar waiting for a list of months to appear, meanwhile instead of that, all the individual posts were busy loading, so I thought something was broken.

    secondly regarding the Egyptian Bahais, and the Iranian ones as well I find it helpful to read the Fire Tablet at dawn:

    Indeed the hearts of the sincere are consumed in the fire of separation: Where is the gleaming of he light of Thy Countenance, O Beloved of the worlds? a portion from the first few lines.

  23. edoriver,
    This must be like watching paint dry! ;-)


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