Monday, March 05, 2007

Leyli and Farida Shaping History in Egypt

Baby Leyli was born on 24 February 2007 to an Egyptian father and an American mother living in Egypt. Both parents are Baha'is. As expected these days, her parents were very concerned that they might not be able to acquire a birth certificate for Leyli since Baha'is living in Egypt have been denied such right unless they lie about their religion and enter one of the three recognized religions in Egypt.

When Leyli's father went to the registration office which is under the direction of the Ministry of Health, he was informed that the office now has a directive from "higher authorities" (Ministry of Interior) that in case one of the parents is a foreign national and happens to belong to other than one of the three recognized religions, then they are authorized to issue a birth certificate in which the religion of the parents can be entered as "5 dashes."

The procedure for acquiring a birth certificate in Egypt mandates a handwritten certificate initially issued by the Ministry of Health,to be followed by a computerized certificate issued by the Ministry of Interior six months after birth.

When Leyli's sister Farida was born four years earlier, her parents struggled for 14 months in order to obtain a birth certificate for their daughter. This was only possible after the interference of the US State Department. The key to finally allowing Farida a birth certificate was that she would have been unable to obtain a passport to travel without having a birth certificate first, and if she was refused a birth certificate it would have implied that a US citizen (Farida is a dual citizen) was prevented from leaving Egypt, thus creating a diplomatic crisis.

Consequently Farida was issued an Egyptian birth certificate with the religion section left vacant. To our knowledge, this was the first Egyptian birth certificate of its kind, issued under the new computerized system. A detailed account of this matter can be seen at their father's blog linked here....

As can be concluded, that sequence of events prepared the way for her newborn sister, leyli, to obtain a birth certificate without undue delay and without religious classification entered in the required section of the document.

In this post--with the consent of the parents--one can see copies of the handwritten certificate of Leyli (with 5 dashes in place of religion) and the computerized certificate of Farida (with no religious classification section).

If obtaining a birth certificate (devoid of religious classification) for a child born to Baha'i parents in Egypt--with one of the parents being an Egyptian national--is possible even with the current up-to-date computerized system, then why is it not also possible for all children born to Baha'i parents in Egypt? Furthermore, if this was possible to implement under the newly established computerized identification system, why not apply this as well to Identification Cards?

It is obvious that this case presents a clear evidence that such option is quite possible and implementable. This would definitely solve the crisis currently facing Egyptian Baha'is who are unable to enjoy any of their citizenship and basic civil rights because of being prevented from obtaining any of their essential identity documents. It would also solve the extreme hardship facing Egyptian Baha'i children as shown in this previous post.

This solution also does not present any hardship to the authorities, particularly as they are dealing with those extreme elements which are opposed to the Baha'i Faith as a religion.

On another note, the girls' father Shady Samir remains with neither an ID card nor a passport!

P.S. the word "VOID" was added by me.


  1. It should cause a great deal of shame to those reactionary elements of the society when they see how their blind fear and hatred effects the most innocent and helpless among them. How can any person claiming to believe in God allow injustice to befall a mere infant?

  2. It shows what can be done when there is the threat of an international diplomatic incident, particularly with the USA.

    But at a deeper level, Phillipe has asked exactly the right question. Those who claim to be believers in God and deny justice to an infant will eventually face that moment that we all face of reviewing and evaluating their lives - and then there will be no place for them to hide!

  3. One would expect uniform application of such decisions. It is the right thing to do--and I am confident that the authorities would want to do the "right thing."

  4. First, Congratulations to the father and mother! second, one day our society's culture will mature, and reach the conclusion that every human being is entiteled to his own belief, and that that does not pose a problem or a threat to anyone. Hang in there buddy! it won't take too long I hope....

  5. Nah.det Masr,
    Thank you for your wise words. You have expressed views that exemplify acceptance,tolerance and enlightenment. More Egyptians like you need to speak up.


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