Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Burning of Baha'i Homes in an Egyptian Village Again!

An Egyptian newspaper named Youm Sabeh [7] published an article yesterday reporting on the burning of two Baha'i homes in the Egyptian village of Shawraniyah, located in the southern province of Sohag. These homes, along with three others, were also previously attacked and burned in March 2009, forcing their occupants to flee their village in the middle of the night to save their children's lives. The 2009 incident was previously reported here and here in this blog.

This disturbing news outraged human rights organizations as well as many of those who have been defending the civil rights of the Baha'is, such as the Muslim Network for Baha'i Rights, whose webpage is posted here. Their post states the following:
The Egyptian paper Youm 7 reported yesterday that two homes of Baha’is were set on fire in Shuraniya village, in the Sohag governorate. The group of people responsible for the arson also stole property of the Baha’is.
The arson did not result in human casualties because the owners of the homes had fled Shuraniya and have been living in Cairo since their homes were previously torched in March 2009, fearing additional attacks. 40 Baha’i families from the village fled it following the attacks and are still unable to return to them. While several people were arrested after the previous arson attack, they were later released and no charges were brought against anyone. The March 2009 attack targeted five homes of Baha’is following anti-Baha’i incitement on Egyptian TV.

Clearly, even with the recent revolutionary events in Egypt, promoting an open society that is looking towards a future that will foster adherence to the standards of human rights, equality, tolerance and understanding, Egypt has a long way to go in order for it to achieve a pluralistic society. These hoped-for changes do not happen overnight, but they rather require hard work, determination, tenacity and persistence in order for the Egyptian society to learn how to provide peaceful and respectful environment for all its minorities. Mahatma Gandhi once said: "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." Egypt's hope is in its youth, those heroic figures that risked everything in order to be able to love and enjoy living in their own homeland. Let us all learn from Egypt's youth and let us be inspired by their vision and aspirations. It is unfortunate, however, that those who would benefit most from these words never get to read them, and if they do, they simply dismiss them out of hand because of their blind hatred that has no basis but for their pure ignorance.

One is left with the conclusion that such rumblings expose the deep-rooted intolerance that can only be attributed to disinformation that has been systemically infused by extremists for several decades. It is unfortunate that those who commit such criminal acts have been driven by blind ignorance, oblivious to reality. Baha'is have always been peaceful, loyal and law abiding citizens of Egypt. They have never harmed anyone, never robbed anyone, never killed anyone, never burned anyone's home, never discriminated against anyone, on the contrary, they have always served their fellow citizens with absolute dedication and devotion. To name a few of their services, they have contributed to the arts, sciences, health care, education and social welfare of their country. It is time for them to live safely and to enjoy their God-given rights and freedoms.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Article-2 of Egypt's Constitution is in Question!

Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces, in its Communique No. 5 following its interim assumption of the country's leadership, suspended the constitution and dissolved both houses of the parliament. Reportedly, it did not, however, suspend Article-2 of the Egyptian constitution which states: "Islam is the Religion of the State. Arabic is its official language, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence [Sharia]." This article was amended years ago by former President Sadat in his attempt to appease particular segments of the society. [See Egypt's Constitution, under: PART ONE - THE STATE]

The bulk of the revolutionaries, including the Egyptian youth, have been angered by finding out that this Article was not also suspended. They insist that Article-2 contradicts the whole intent and purpose of the revolution. They want to ensure that the revolution does not get hijacked by religious extremism, and want to make certain that the main goal of the revolution remains unchanged, that is: "to provide for a civilian and secular State devoid of any extreme religious ideology, a State that provides equality and fairness to every Egyptian citizen without alienating any minorities or religious groups within the society." They intend to make their case clearly known this Friday.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A New Egypt is Born!

On this new day of freedom in Egypt, the shackles of inequality, injustice, corruption and repression have been removed. It is now time for peaceful transition to a society that guarantees civil and human rights and equal opportunity to all citizens regardless of their background, gender, color, race, belief, religion or any other difference in its diverse communities.

It is time to feed the hungry, house the homeless, elevate the standard of living for the poor, clean up the neighborhoods, educate the children and provide work for the unemployed. It is time to eliminate corruption, improve health care for the poor and needy, bolster the infrastructure, and raise the standard of public education for all. It is time to integrate every Egyptian into the society without leaving anyone behind. This transformation must be now realized in swift and systematic action and not merely in words and slogans. This is the will of the people.

Egypt Freedom Song: the Voice of Freedom

Volunteers cleaning up Tahrir Square