Monday, October 29, 2007

Egyptian Baha'is: Lawyer's Remarks Before Court Decision

The independent Egyptian daily newspaper "Al-Badeel" published an article in its today's edition regarding the two cases before Cairo's Court of Administrative Justice, scheduled for decision tomorrow, Tuesday, 30 October 2007.

The first case involves the twin 14-year-old Egyptian Baha'i children, Emad and Nancy Raouf Hindi. Their father is demanding the issuance of their Egyptian birth certificates; without which they are unable to attend school or partake in any official transactions.

The second case involves an Egyptian Baha'i university student who has been suspended because of his inability to obtain an ID card. The university mandates that students reaching the age of 16 must have military postponement certificates. In order to be granted such certification, a candidate must produce a valid computerized ID card. Currently, Baha'is in Egypt are prevented from obtaining ID cards.

The article, authored by Khaled Abdel-Rasoul, is titled: "after they have been deprived of education, treatment and work: the Baha'is Hold Their Breath Awaiting Tomorrow's Administrative Court Judgement."

It reports on an interview with attorney Adel Ramadan, who is specialized in freedom of religious belief at the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, which had filed the lawsuits on behalf of the Baha'is.

He states that their case is based on specific principles: one is "freedom of religious belief as mandated by the Supreme Constitutional Court [of Egypt]." It states that "no one can be forced to carry a religion that he does not believe in," and that "no one can be punished for believing in a religion that is not approved by the State."

Another important legal argument is "the right to equality for all," pointing to the fact that "Egyptians carrying dual citizenship are able to obtain ID cards that do not state religion on them."

He clarified that the Ministry of Interior's defense memorandum states: "an Egyptian not in possession of another citizenship is under the obligation to choose either Muslim or Christian [under religious classification on Id cards]. This response has astonished [puzzled] the court which demanded that the defense for the [Ministry of] Interior must produce an explanation, which, in turn, was unable to provide any explanation [to the court]."

Ramadan pointed to the fact that "Egyptians carrying other citizenship such as American, Canadian and others, have acquired ID cards and birth certificates for their children that do not contain 'Muslim or Christian' in the religion section." He used an Egyptian proverb that states "he who has a back, is never kicked in the stomach."

Attorney Ramadan anticipates that "the judgement, this time, will be in their [Baha'is] favor." Specifically because what is requested this time "is not to produce ID cards or birth certificates documenting that they are Baha'is," rather they are requesting that the religion section is left blank, or any other option that would assure that they do not enter incorrect information that is in violation of reality, and without being forced to commit "crime of forgery" according to the definition of the law.

He asserted that "they are basing their demands on their right to freedom of belief as guaranteed by the constitution and declared by the the Supreme Constitutional Court--that is equality between all Egyptians."


  1. An appropriate reminder from Baha'u'llah's words: "Be generous in prosperity and thankful in adversity".

    In contrast to blindness to the truth, deafness to justice, and superficial instead of sincere
    adherence to divine guidance, may God open the eyes for all to see, ready the ears for all to hear, and loosen the tongues for all to speak His praise.

    And whatever the outcome tomorrow, our heartfelt gratitude to the EIFHR.

  2. As the article makes it clear, Egyptian Baha'is are holding their breath while the court decides! We are holding our breath at the same time.

    Should the court decide in favor of the Baha'is, I hope that the government does not meddle and appeal.

  3. The cases got postponed again. Please see this post.

  4. Probably the lesson here is, trust in God but don't hold your breath!


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