Thursday, November 29, 2007

Egypt: A Newspaper Refutes Another in Defending the Baha'i Rights

Yesterday, Cairo's weekly newspaper, Al-dostour [the constitution] published an article written by Sheema'a Abul-Kheir refuting Al-Ahram's article written by its writer Muhammad Dunya, referred to in this previous post.

Al-Dostour's article is quite critical of the negative coverage provided in Al-Ahram regarding the recently released Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on the identity crisis in Egypt. The title states: "Al-Ahram criticized 'Human Rights Watch' report regarding religious freedom as if it [Al-Ahram] is inviting the citizens to commit forgery!"

In order to make a point, Abul-Kheir uses the Egyptian proverb "they did not find any fault in the roses." He stresses that Al-Ahram has a consistent history of being critical of international and national human rights reports accusing them of producing inaccurate information and data. This time, he adds, Al-Ahram was unable to refute any of the information and findings produced in the Human Rights Watch report, so instead it attacked the proposed solutions suggested by this well-respected human rights organization, "which, for the sake of accuracy, was produced in collaboration with the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, an Egyptian organization."

He also points out that Al-Ahram was unable to argue any of the statements made in the report regarding the constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom of belief and the right to choose one's religion--guarantees that were confirmed by various Egyptian courts including the constitutional court. Instead, Al-Ahram criticized the practical component of the report that addresses the applicability of the actual dictates of the law. Specifically, he points to the violation of citizenship rights of the Baha'is to be able to enter their religion correctly in official documents. He brings up that these citizen, as a result, are deprived of their rights to education, employment and health care. This violation extends further to their rights to marry and have families.

In response to Al-Ahram's statement about the Ministry of Interior's obstruction being based on the excuse that the second article of the constitution refers to "Islamic Shari'ah as a principal source of legislation" and that Islamic Shari'ah recognizes three religions only, he maintains that this excuse contradicts the findings of HRW report, which are based on multiple opinions of the highest Islamic authorities--including that of the honorable leader Gamal Qoutb--showing no evidence whatsoever to support the claim that Islamic Shari'ah recognizes only three religions.

He then puts forward the following questions to Al-Ahram: "what would these citizens do without official documents, of which they have been denied, and without which they are unable to manage their daily affairs? If the answer is that they would have to choose one of the three religions, what then if a Baha'i citizen is issued an ID card, with "Muslim" as his religion, marries a Muslim woman...would the all-capable Al-Ahram organization explain to us whether or not this marriage is to be considered legitimate?"

In the caricature accompanying the article, the newspaper chief editor seated at the desk asks his employee: "What do you mean the paper is not selling? What then would they cover people dying in the streets with?"

This is indeed a refreshing piece of intelligent journalism. Egypt is to be congratulated on producing this generation of eloquent, righteous and courageous journalists.


  1. It's nice to see my generation stepping up to the challenges of this age of transition. Right on as the say, right on.

  2. Phillipe,
    It might not be only a generational thing. As you well know there are many of previous generations who continue to uphold the highest standards of understanding and acceptance.

  3. What is inspiring is that no one can paint Egypt with one brush of bigotry and ignorance!

    There are voices of sanity, of logic and reason that support human rights for minorities such as the Baha'is in Egypt! They shine in the darkness of ignorance and will lead the way to the emancipation of all minorities including the Baha'is in Egypt!

    In the silence of ignorance you can hear the music of love, and in the darkness of bigotry you can see the light of justice. And as the Baha'is everywhere continue to defend Islam throughout the world against the wrongs done to it by a small minority of political fanatics, some Muslims have arisen to defend Baha'i rights in those countries that robbed the Baha'is from their citizenship rights, human and civil rights, contradicting the true spirit of Islam!

    I salute all fair-minded reporters and journalists wherever they are who stand for the rights of the oppressed who have committed no wrongs other than to believe!

  4. An honest and intelligent article that addresses the issues and confirms the inaccuracy and deceptiveness of the Al Ahram article. It would be of interest to see a published reply from Al Ahram.

  5. There is so much good out there...the silent majority!


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