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EGYPT: Bahais win major court battle


After years of legal hurdles, Egypt’s High Administrative Court upheld a verdict granting the minority Bahai community the right to be themselves, at least when it comes to official documents.

“We greatly welcome the decision. We are very pleased that this is the end of the legal battle,” Soha Abdelaty, Deputy Director of Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told The Times.

In recent years, Bahais were forced to choose Islam, Christianity or Judaism in the religious denomination slot in order to receive identification documents. Some of them went to court, arguing that they should be allowed to leave the ‘religion’ slot blank rather than choose a faith that is not theirs. The move elicited the fury of Muslim conservatives who dissimssed Bahais as heretics and opposed any attempt to recognize the Bahai faith in official documents. In Iran, Bahais face other aspects of persecution.

Previously, several verdicts had been handed down in favor of Bahais, however, they were not implemented, which leaves many Bahais cautiously optimistic about today’s ruling.  "What I hope is to see this verdict immediately implemented," Wafaa Hindy, a Bahai woman told The Times. "This verdict can mark the start of a new era, but we should not jump to conclusions until the verdict is enforced." 

There is no official record of the number of Bahais in Egypt; however, they are estimated at 2000.

"There is no community in the world that faced the civil death we have been facing; our children cannot have birth certificates and we cannot have identification cards. We are fed up," Hindy said. 

The Bahai faith emerged in Iran from the heart of Shiite Islam in the mid-19th century, founded by Bahaullah, whom adherents recognize as the most recent in a line of prophets, including Jesus and Muhammad. The world’s more than five million Baha’is believe in one God and the unity of all major religions. One of the remarkable tenets of their faith is the belief in continuous and progressive divine revelations. According to Bahais, humanity will still receive more prophets.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: The shrine of Bahaullah, founder of the Bahai faith in the Israeli city of Haifa, Credit: Bahai Media Bank/Nelson Ashberger

Comments () | Archives (7)

It's just political move, Egypt and Iran relation have been going through a bumpy road for millenniums and lately it haven't been that good of ride and it shows by Egypt recognizing a Iranian sect in her soil while many native Egyptians lack any meaningful freedom to live under, be it religious or politics.
Egypt have been going through a identity crisis ever since the end of Pharaonic era and start of being part of global multi-nations empires when she lost her Pharaonic virginity to "king of kings" around 500 BC, then there was Romans then Arabs then Ottomans then British and now USA, therefore anytime Egypt goes through emotional stress (Gaza war being latest), it's much more convenient for Egypt to forget her current lover dished out abuses for hush money and instead falsely curse her first lover for deflower her and destroying her life ever since, kind of old women mentality really, it's true but then it wasn't Iran who forced Egypt to go to bed with any newcomer without a dime registered under his name ever since!

The Baha'i Faith is indeed a coherent religious system. Regarding Baha'i belief in the unity of the world's great religions, Baha'u'llah wrote: "There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed." Baha'u'llah indicated that a new stage in human development had begun, "the stage of maturity," justice and universal peace. In this respect, social progress is intimately tied up with moral and spiritual development. Previous spiritual Teachers such as Moses, Jesus, Zoraster, Krishna and Muhammad released human capacity in pursuit of such development. But as adolescence is quite different from adulthood, the traditional concepts of prophets are no longer applicable. As Baha'u'llah explains: "The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation."

Whether one agrees or disagrees with a religion or belief the bottom line is that people must have the freedom to worship their God and practice their religion. King Cyrus of Persia allowed that to happen 2500 years ago and all lived in peace and prosperity. Egypt and Iran should try to, it might work for them too.

This is truly start of a New Era and Egypt should be commeded and congradulated on this. It is about time they step in to the 21st century. All people regardless of their beliefs should be recognized and treated fairly as a honorable citizen of their countries. We the people of the WORLD hope that Iran will soon mature to this understanding also.

Bravo Egypt. Kudos to the Bahai's

Dear Editor
about this part of your statement:" their faith is the belief in continuous and progressive divine revelations"
Bahaullah in Ishraqat/293 Persian Edition said that Mohammad is the last prophet!!!
Baha’ism is not a systematic Religious Idea & its human made Idea and full of contradictory.
I read it in original Persian edition of Ishraqat I could kindly sent the document via e-mal for your precious readers.
Regards Reader

I hope the honorable government of Egypt gives the two billion Buddhist in the world the same courtesy and allow for ALL religions to be treated equally under the Egyptian law. The great nation and people of Egypt can lead ALL middle eastern countries once again by recognizing the fact that ALL religions are divine and equal in the sight of our creator who is the final judge of all our actions in this world of existance.

This welcomed ruling carries with it a very significant redirection in Egypt's policies concerning religious minorities. Egypt is to be congratulated on this important change. The next step for Egypt is to reverse the 1960 Presidential Decree that outlawed the Baha'i Faith in Egypt.


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