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Baha’is in Egypt – News Coverage

21 February, 2007

In a news story posted yesterday on Yahoo News by Reuters, Raouf Hindy an Egyptian Dentist is taking action in the courts as he faces barriers in attaining a government ID Card. This is on the grounds that Egypt’s officials do not recognise his religion, which is the Baha’i Faith.

Mr.Hindy is not seeking recognition of faith but rather to exercise his right to the freedom to believe in any faith, which is part of international human rights legislation which Egypt is a signatory to. Though on official documents Islam, Christianity or Judaism can only be listed. Without the ID Cards, individuals will not have official access to basic services such as education and health care.

For me a question that arises from this situation is, why do the Egyptian authorities need citizens to list their religion on identification cards in the first place? It is planned that in a few years time in England ID cards will be introduced, and i’m sure there will be no need to disclose religious belief on the documents.

CAIRO (Reuters) – If Egyptian dentist Raouf Hindy would only deny his Baha’i faith, he could get his children the identity documents they need to enrol in Egyptian schools and later to marry, drive a car or open a bank account.

But Hindy has insisted on telling the truth.Egypt map

His decision has thrust him to the forefront of a legal battle over Egypt’s identity politics by Baha’is, who are seen as heretics by many Muslims and whose faith is not recognized by the state.

Hindy is suing the government for the right to omit religion from his children’s official documents — a bold act in this deeply religious, majority-Muslim country where the tiny Baha’i community is said to number between 500 and 2,000.

If he wins, lawyers say the case may set a precedent that would help other Baha’is get identity papers largely denied them since 2004. Discrimination against Baha’is is entrenched in Egyptian bureaucracy, they say.

“I don’t like any person to force me to write a religion I don’t believe in. You know why? Religion is between your heart and God,” Hindy told Reuters.

The Egyptian constitution guarantees religious freedom but in practice officials are reluctant to recognize religions other than Islam, Christianity and Judaism…More

By Cynthia Johnston, Tue Feb 20

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