Baha'is Struggle for Full Rights

May 11, 2006

Source: Middle East Times

On May 11, 2006 Middle East Times reported, "In April, Egypt's small community of Baha'is rejoiced that they had finally been granted full rights as Egyptians, despite deep-rooted differences in religious ideology. Just last week, however, the government put forward an appeal against the group in an attempt to maintain the status quo. 'We were ecstatic about the case that allowed our community to be fully accepted Egyptians,' says one married Baha'i man. 'But now that the government is appealing the case, we are afraid that the repercussions could be disastrous for our people, especially if our names come out.' The man was referring to the surprise win in April of the Baha'i couple who went to court last month to obtain birth certificates for their children, and whose victory - on paper at least - grants them full rights as Egyptian citizens. According to the Egyptian constitution, freedom of belief is guaranteed. In theory there are no restrictions on the basis of religion. In practice, however, authorities recognize only Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Egyptian minister of religious endowments Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk told parliament on May 4 that the government would appeal the case based on an edict issued by the country's leading Muslim cleric, sheikh of Al Azhar Mohammed Sayyid Al Tantawi. According to Tantawi, the Baha'i faith is not a 'revealed religion' recognized by Islam. Baha'is are often the victims of random arrests and are often held without reason for days on end."