Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another Year Passes With No Solution for Egypt's ID Crisis

International Herald Tribune's "Daily News Egypt", the country's only independent English-language daily, has just published a story regarding yesterday's postponement of the two cases involving Egyptian Baha'is who are attempting to obtain their basic civil rights. Because of "Internet Explorer" incompatibility with the newspaper's website, the entire article is re-posted below:


By Alexandra Sandels
First Published: December 25, 2007

CAIRO: The Cairo Court of Administrative Justice postponed Tuesday its verdict in the two Bahai trials to Jan. 22, citing “continuing case deliberations.”

Postponed for the fifth time in a row, the verdict would determine whether Bahais could obtain official documents without affiliating themselves to a religion different than their own.

Many members from the Bahai community along with journalists and activists turned up for the session, which many believed would deliver the final decision.

“I’m disappointed. The plaintiffs are ready for the case to be closed. It’s been ongoing since 2004,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), told Daily News Egypt.

Shady Samir, a Bahai activist, said that “he’s become used to it” at this point.

“There seems to be a lot of debate about the case. Perhaps that’s why they haven’t been able to make a decision yet,” Samir told Daily News Egypt.

The first suit involves 14-year-old twins Emad and Nancy Raouf Hindi who have been unable to obtain birth certificates. Prohibited from enrolling in school without official documents, their father Dr Raouf Hindi had to send them to a British School in Libya.

The second lawsuit concerns Hosni Hussein Abdel-Massih, a Bahai student who has been ordered to leave his university studies since he cannot obtain a national ID card.

In order to obtain any kind of official documents in Egypt — including birth certificates, identity cards and marriage licenses — one must state their religious affiliation. Currently, authorities only recognize Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Passports are the only exception, and do not require citizens to list their religious faith.

Citizens cannot enroll in school, receive medical treatment, take bank loans, or buy a car without government documents such as identity cards and birth certificates. Young children cannot receive vaccinations against diseases without a birth certificate.

Bahais want to either write their faith as is or leave a blank space on the religion entry in official documents.


  1. The panel of judges was unable to reach a conclusion on this case. This is a simple matter of human rights and not a theological question about whether or not the Baha'i Faith is divinely inspired. The Baha'is do not insist on their Faith being recognized by the state, and are willing to accept leaving the space for religion on the ID cards empty, place a dash, or to be classified as "other". The only thing they object to is to falsify the official records by denying their Faith and committing this act is also contrary to Egyptian law and to their moral beliefs.

  2. This is exactly why the resolution must be granted by the government.


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