Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

EGYPT: Bahais accused of inciting sedition

April 23, 2009 |  7:55 am

Baha ullah shrine

The religious saga of the Bahai community is not over yet.

A prominent hard-line Islamist filed a complaint this week with Egypt's prosecutor-general against two Bahais, accusing them of defaming monotheistic religions, fomenting sedition and threatening national security, according to a report by a local newspaper.  

Youssef el Badry -- along with a couple of other clerics and 18 lawyers --  has reportedly singled out Basma Moussa, a prominent Bahai follower who has recently become known for her outspoken criticism of the state’s discrimination against Bahais, and Ahmed Abouel Ela, who appeared on TV last month and said he converted from Islam to the Bahai faith.

The case follows a recent verdict  that acknowledged the right of Bahais to receive official identification documents that don't categorize them as either Muslims or Christians. Bahais are cautiously contemplating the implementation of the verdict.

Yet, even if implemented, the verdict does not necessarily mean that Bahais would be fully tolerated in a society immersed in Islamic conservatism. 

Plaintiffs accused Bahais of being responsible for the violence that has recently erupted in southern Egypt. Muslim radicals set the houses of some Bahai families in the upper Egypt province of Sohag on fire in the wake of a TV show in which Ahmed Abouel Ela appeared and  reportedly claimed that the province hosted a large number of Baha’is. 

-- Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

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