Faithless and stateless in Egypt

The decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Egypt to disallow members of the Baha’i Faith to be certified as Baha’is on official documentation will be seen as a giant leap backwards in Egypt’s civil liberties history. Human rights groups as well as members of the Baha’i Faith see it as a gross human rights violation which bears major implications for daily life in Egypt.

The law discriminates against Baha’is, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists alike. You can’t get a drivers license, a job, a university placing or even be anywhere without your ID Card. If you are spotted without one, you can face 5 years in jail. You must specify a religion on your card - but only one of the three recognised: Muslim, Christian or Jew. No other religious affiliation is officially admissible. Without state ID stating one of these religions as one’s affiliation, organising something as fundamental as a family member’s funeral becomes a monumental task.

The conservative approach has disappointed the hopeful expectations of both secularists and religious minorities. In the months leading up to last Saturday’s ruling, the law was increasingly interpreted by the courts to suit the more conservative elements.

Rendered faithless and stateless

The Supreme Administrative Court’s ruling intensifies the fight for Baha’i Egyptian citizenship rights, writes Gamal Nkrumah of the Egyptian publication, Al-Ahram.

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