Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Egyptian Journalist's View on Tolerance

[Translator’s notes appear in square brackets [ ].]

An Egyptian Baha'i, Mrs. Wafá’ Hindi Halim, sent an email to Dr. Khalid Montasser (a medical doctor and writer for a number of newspapers, including Sawt Al-Umma; to express her sorrow that the fabric of Egyptian society should constitute only two religions, Islam and Christianity; she asks him how their society can reach the goal of accepting “the other” and briefly explains the plight of Egyptian Baha’is. Dr. Montasser has responded by writing this article, which was published by the independent weekly Egyptian newspaper Sawt El-Umma [Voice of the Nation] on 3 September, 2007. The headline reads:

A letter from a Baha’i citizen: we suffer a moral killing and a civilian death

Underneath the picture of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a lead-line by Dr. Montasser reads:

My acceptance of a Baha’i is [reflects] confidence in myself as a Muslim

The author introduces Mrs. Halim’s letter as follows: “We will not enter civilization or take part in any progress unless we memorize, comprehend and apply this word which was sculpted by Europeans; a word which we translated only in form and assassinated its meaning. The word is TOLERANCE; tolerance and acceptance of the other. We need to understand that the universe is not only for us; that my existence is not necessarily tied to another’s extinction; that the secret of my strength, as a Muslim, is confidence in myself and not fear and mistrust of the other. The concept of two pavilions, one for believers and one for infidels, is an old, out-worn understanding which has been overtaken by civilization; the concept of citizenship must reign and not be set aside. We have to deal with Baha’is through these understandings; no matter how much we disagree with them, they do have the right to life. Society has killed them, morally, when it deprived them of the identification card, birth certificate, death certificate, appointing a lawyer, etc. It is a crime of Nazi-style annihilation that future history—for assuredly progress will be victorious—will not forgive. They [the Baha’is] are not a terrorist organization, they are just ideologically different; this is their only crime. Let us read together the letter from the Baha’i citizen—or rather, non-citizen—Wafá’ Hindi Halim....” [her letter to Dr. Montasser , in which she quotes part of a statement by a civic group calling itself “Egyptians against discrimination”, is then printed in its entirety.]


  1. Dr. Montasser response is straightforward and reflects rational foresight of the accomplishments humanity is making to eliminate obsolete and destructive ideologies. The admonitions of how history will “not forgive” such crimes of “annihilation” emphasize the urgency for the Egyptian government - and influential religious institutions - to implement corrective measures. These intelligent views are no doubt shared by many enlightened citizens who are determined to see Egyptian society advance competently with the rest of the civilized world.

    As observed in numerous statements by local and international bodies, established provisions that define and defend human rights are not placed for indiscriminate review, comment or verification by an individual government that seeks to redefine or question its terms - particularly from one that has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among other charters.

    Once again, the unanimous voice of reason calls upon the Egyptian government to honor its commitments and cease further procrastination and habitual indifference to what is an unavoidable and distinctly monitored issue.

  2. weare really suffering but we pray God in next october 30 the court rules with the right of the childern

  3. Hopefully, with views like this and with the government's intent to solve these serious problems, your suffering will end. In addition to the many Egyptians who support you and defend you, the entire world supports your rights....

  4. What a breath of fresh air from Dr. Montasser! He appeals to reaon with its powerful instruments: the mind, the heart, and the spirit. His logic is clear, his caring is obvious, and his spirit is radiant.

    It is my hope that the suffering of Egyptian Baha'is in silence comes to a quick end with a signal from the government that it will no longer continue to hold down this innocent minority or deprive them of their God given civil rights for no reason other than their different beliefs. The Baha'i community of Egypt, because of its non-partisan and non-political involvement, is an example of tolerance, peace, and love of their country and the land of their birth.

  5. the word tolerance can mean a lot of things...For this discussion I will limit tolerance to Philosophical Differences of opinions...and that is what we must strive for as the world looks forward to the next few years...Humanity has entered into a critical point...which is not too different when elements reach critical points as you add heat and water goes through the change of state from solid to liquid or from liquid to gaseous state... Civilization is evolving from its current state of chaos to a more advanced state of order and tolerance of philosophical differences of opinions is essential for humanity's continuous survival....


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