Situation of the Bahá'ís in Egypt
As the purpose of item 4 is to address human rights situations that require the attention of the Human Rights Council, the Bahá’í International Community would like to evoke the unacceptable situation of the Bahá’ís in Egypt.
Although we fully support the right of each country to establish any mechanisms it feels are required for the smooth running of its internal affairs, Egypt’s system for national identity cards does not allow its Bahá'í citizens to obtain the new ID card. These identity cards are required by law; are essential for access to employment, education, medical and financial services, as well as freedom of movement and security of property – and the only Egyptians who can obtain them are the Muslim, Christian and Jewish citizens of this country.
The reason why this is such a grave violation of human rights is that government policies have created a situation where members of a minority are denied official identity. Egyptian Bahá'ís are being denied recognition of their existence – which is turning them not only into non-citizens in their own country, but worse than that: into non-persons.
We might mention that this is the latest in a fairly long history of acts that have persecuted and discriminated against a community of peaceful and law-abiding citizens. Once a vibrant minority, established in the 19th century in Egypt, it suffered a crippling blow in 1960 – when a Presidential Decree banned its institutions, confiscated its assets and established the oppression that has, ever since, denied Egyptian Bahá’ís their civil, economic, cultural and social rights.
However, we only wish to put one question to you today: How can members of the Bahá’í minority abide by the laws that require them to tell the truth when filling out official forms and fulfil their obligations as Egyptian citizens to obtain government-issued ID cards and other documents as stipulated by law? At present, this is impossible, and each one is thus being denied the most basic right of any human being: the right to an identity, the right to an official existence.
As many of you may know, several cases have been working their way through Egyptian courts, filed by Bahá’ís whose rights of citizenship are being denied. Some have been unable to obtain birth certificates for their children; some have been fired from their jobs; others cannot complete their studies at university… in all these cases: because they do not have (and cannot obtain) national identity cards.
Surely the Egyptian government cannot deny the existence of members of a minority who have demonstrated their obedience to government and their good faith. Egypt is failing in its obligation to ensure the most basic rights to ALL its citizens, including the Bahá’ís.
The Bahá'í International Community is grateful for the support it has received from human rights activists, journalists and others who have joined their voices with ours to seek a just solution to a serious inequity. We ask for your support, as well, so that the authorities in Egypt will correct a situation that has very serious implications not only for the Bahá'ís, but also for other minorities in Egypt and throughout the world.
BIC Document # 07-0924