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Search for tag "Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents"

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2006 4 Apr In late 2004 or early 2005 the government of Egypt introduces a computerized identity card system that locks out all religious classifications except Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Baha'is are unable to get ID cards and other documents essential to day-to-day life. Thus begins an epic struggle for Bahá'í appellants to win the right to have their religious affiliation properly identified on goverment documents.

The issuance of birth certificates is at the heart of the first case, which concerns 14-year-old twins Imad and Nancy Rauf Hindi. Their father, Rauf Hindi, obtained birth certificates that recognized their Baha'i affiliation when they were born but new policies require computer generated certificates and the computer system locks out any religious affiliation but the three officially recognized religions. Without birth certificates, the children are unable to enroll in school in Egypt.

A lower administrative court rules that the couple should be identified as Baha'is on official documents, a decision that, if upheld, will essentially overturn the government's policy of forcing citizen to choose from only the three officially recognized religions -- Islam, Christianity and Judaism -- on state documents. The lower court's ruling provokes an outcry among the fundamentalist elements in Egyptian society, particularly Al Azhar University and the Muslim Brotherhood who object to any kind of recognition of the Baha'i Faith as a religious belief. The case gains international attention in the news media and from human rights groups and sparks a wholesale debate in newspapers and blogs throughout the Arab world over the right to freedom of religion and belief. [BWNS454, Minority Right website]

Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2006 15 May The government appeals the lower court's ruling to the Supreme Administrative Court and the hearing focuses on procedural issues concerning the case. The emotions stirred by the case are evident at the initial hearing. Lawyers and other individuals seated in the courthouse interrupt and heckle defense counsel each time they try to address the court. They yell insults at them, calling them 'infidels' and threatening them with physical violence during the hearing. Because the Court is unable to impose order in the courtroom, the Court briefly adjourns the hearing before resuming the proceedings in camera. When the hearing is adjourned courthouse security officers refuse to protect lawyers who are surrounded by members of the crowd, verbally threatening, pushing, shoving and not allowing them to walk away from the area.

After the government's appeal of the lower court's ruling a court hearing is set for 19 June, however, the Court commissioner's advisory report is not submitted in time for the hearing and the hearing is further postponed until the 16th of September. [BWNS454, BWNS456]

Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2006 16 Sep The Supreme Administrative Court again postpones its hearing on the government appeal of a lower court's ruling upholding the right of a Baha'i couple to have their religion properly identified on government documents. In a brief hearing the Court continues the case until 20 November in order to await the completion of an advisory report from the State Commissioner's Authority on the case. [BWNS480] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2006 20 Nov Lawyers representing a Baha'i couple seeking to have their religious affiliation properly identified on state documents present arguments at a full hearing before the Supreme Administrative Court. The hearing is short and the court adjourns until 16 December when a judgment in the case is expected. [BWNS492] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2006 16 Dec Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court rules against the right of Baha'is to be properly identified on government documents. There are now two cases related to this issue; the first involves a lawsuit by the father of twin children, who is seeking to obtain proper birth certificates for them and the second concerns a college student who needs a national identity card to re-enroll in university.

The decision upholds current government policy, a policy which forces the Baha'is either to lie about their religious beliefs or give up their state identification cards. The policy effectively deprives Egyptian Baha'is and others of access to most rights of citizenship, including education, financial services, and even medical care. [BWNS492]

Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2006 21 Dec A message is sent from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of Egypt regarding the recent Supreme Administrative Court decision with respect to their right to hold identification cards. [BWNS499]
  • For a the full text of the message from the Universal House of Justice 21DEC2006 in English.
Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2007 12 Nov Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights release a report that states that Egypt should end discriminatory practices that prevent Baha'is and others from listing their true religion on government documents. The 98-page report, titled Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom, focuses on problems that have emerged from Egypt's practice of requiring citizens to state their religious identity on government documents but then restricting the choice to Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. "These policies and practices violate the right of many Egyptians to religious freedom," states the report. [BWNS587]
  • See HRW.org for the full text of the report.
Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2007 25 Dec The two cases, the first by the father of twin children who is seeking to obtain proper birth certificates for them and the second by a college student who needs a national identity card to re-enroll in university, were set for "final judgment" by the Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo but the hearings were unexpectedly postponed until 22 January 2008. The court indicated it is still deliberating on the cases. On 22 January it was announced that the cases had been continued until 29 January. [BWNS597] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2008 29 Jan In a victory for religious freedom, a lower administrative court ruled in favour of two lawsuits that sought to resolve the government's contradictory policy on religious affiliation and identification papers. The Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo upheld arguments made in two cases concerning Baha'is who have sought to restore their full citizenship rights by asking that they be allowed to leave the religious affiliation field blank on official documents. a lower court again ruled in their favor. Two Muslim lawyers filed an appeal. [BWNS600] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2009 16 Mar The Supreme Administrative Court removes any grounds for preventing Baha'is from receiving proper official identity documents by dismissing an appeal by two Muslim lawyers thus clearing the way for an end to years of deprivation for Egyptian Baha'is and opening the door to a new level of respect for religious privacy in Egypt. The appeal sought to prevent the implementation of a lower court ruling last year that said Baha'is can leave blank the religious classification field on official documents, including all-important identity cards and birth certificates. [BWNS703] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2009 17 Apr With respect to the Supreme Administrative Court decision of 16 March 2009, the decree, dated 19 March, 2009 is signed by General Habib al-Adly, Egypt’s Interior Minister, and published on 14 April in the official gazette. According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), which represented Baha’is in many of the recent court cases concerning religious affiliation on government documents, the decree amends the Implementing Statutes of Egypt’s Civil Status Law of 1994. It specifically instructs officials to place a dash (--) before the line reserved for religion in the official documents of citizens who can show that they, or their ancestors, were followers of a religious belief other than the three recognized by the state. [BWNS707] Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
2009 8 Aug Two young Egyptian Bahá'ís, Imad and Nancy Rauf Hindi, received the new identity cards. They had been at the center of a court case over religious identification on government documents. Their new computerized ID cards show a dash instead of their religion. They are the first such cards to be issued following a ruling by the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court of 16 March, 2009 that cleared the way for the government to issue documents without reference to religious identity. For nearly five years, since the government began introducing a computerized identity card system that locked out all religious classifications except Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, Bahá'ís have been unable to get ID cards and other documents essential to day-to-day life in Egypt. [BWNS707, BWNS726, BWNS499, BWNS495, BWNS492, BWNS480]

The Bahá’í secured the right to an identification card, however, legislation still refused to recognize the validity of the Bahá’í faith and maintained their secondary status within Egypt. Marriage and Bahá’í personal law were still not acknowledged by the state: married Bahá’í who refused to be issued documentation that lists them incorrectly as ‘single’ still reportedly faced difficulties in setting up a bank account and other basic freedoms. This official ‘invisibility’ had also had a profound impact on their ability to participate in civil and political life. Bahá’ís were also the target of hostility towards the end of Mubarak’s regime and in the wake of his resignation, including the torching of several Bahá’í homes where the perpetrators remain unpunished. {Minority Rights website]

Cairo; Egypt Egypt-religious affiliation on government documents
 
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