Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Egypt's Court Ruling on Baha'i Rights: Published Verdict Unveils Possible Deception!

According to today's edition of Al-Ahram semiofficial Egyptian newspaper and the government's mouthpiece, yesterday's court ruling allowing the two Baha'i litigants to obtain birth certificates and ID cards without religious classification did state the following:

The Baha'i [Faith] is not a religion, and that divine religions are three [namely] Islam, Judaism and Christianity, and they are the only ones allowed in the religion section [of ID cards/birth certificates]. The court affirmed that only those Baha'is who were wrongly issued ID cards, birth certificates or official documents with "Baha'i" entered in the religion section, are allowed the issue of documents "without" [religion] or with a dash (-) entered [in place of religion]. Any other Baha'is do not have the right to obtain documents "without" [religious classification in place of one of the specified religions] or with a dash (-) [instead of religion].

If this is true, it appears that it would be the first public release of the supposed verdict. It implies that the case of the Baha'is of Egypt continues to face significant obstacles and is nowhere near resolution.

Does it imply that all other Baha'is in Egypt who do not possess ID cards or birth certificates, in addition to those who hold old paper ID cards with no religion written in their documents, might need to sue the Ministry of Interior en masse in order to be allowed the same treatment as those involved in this verdict?

On the other hand, it is hoped that this language could have been a mere misunderstanding of the verdict itself and that a correction of its meaning can be expeditiously confirmed.


  1. Our understanding that the court rule is very specific for the two cases. But Ministry of Interior could use it on all cases by applying the famous quote: " Text and spirit of the Text".

    Overall it is a victory for the Baha'is, HR Supporters and Justice System in Egypt

  2. I'm getting very skeptical. Let's wait for the official release of the verdict text.

  3. Could it be that this was taken out of context by the newspaper?

  4. Also, of note: it is not up to an Egyptian court to decide on the divinity of a religion. This question is beyond its responsibilities, expertise, functions and domain.

  5. This article published in the semi-official newspaper Al-Ahram is ominous! Its point is that if there is an error on an official document that lists an unrecognized religion (in this case, Baha'i) this can be changed to a (-) so that Baha'i is not mentioned. If this is in fact what the court ruled, then it is a serious setback for the Baha'is in Egypt and adds rather than diminishes their trouble.

    Let us be optimistic that the newspaper got the verdict wrong until we actually see the written verdict.

    Perhaps we celebrated too soon, but perhaps the court's intent is what we initially understood it to b.

  6. Friends, I am sure the Universal House of Justice is quite capable ( :) ) , and its lawyers quite smart, and that when the House, through the BIC and the BWNS in NY and Geneva, says to the whole world that this is a victory, then this IS a victory, don't you think? =)

  7. Naturally, it is important to see the full text of the verdict. As mentioned before, it is possible that Al-Ahram's article could have presented some of the language of the ruling out of context. Al-Ahram's article, however, has already been published and is out in the public domain, thus it deserves to be addressed; otherwise it could be poised to disseminate false information.

  8. The only way to clarify this recent development without speculating one way or another is to read and understand the official text of the verdict carefully. Let’s hope that the Baha’is are given the opportunity to do so and that they can ask for clarification on what they cannot understand. The court owes them that much.

  9. Progress in any form is victory, whether it accords with immediate requirements and crisis, or if it sees fulfillment in long-term and enduring practice. For now, the next few weeks will indicate the intent and consequence of the verdict’s implementation. Whether there is disappointment or not, acknowledgment and further support is to be given to Egyptian institutions where any indication of emergence from inequality is achieved. It is an evolution of immense challenge for the country.


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