Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Egyptian Court Decides 3 Cases On Listing Religion On ID Cards

In Egypt yesterday, Cairo's Court of Administrative Justice decided three cases involving the disclosure of religion on official Egyptian identity cards that must be carried at all times and that are needed to apply for a job, open a bank account, or register children for school. In two of the cases, the court agreed that members of the Baha'i faith could leave blank the line calling for religious affiliation. Previously the government had required individuals to select one of three religions-- Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Yesterday's decisions are a compromise after an earlier Supreme Administrative Court ruling that the Baha'i religion could not be explicitly listed. Yesterday's decisions are discussed by the AP and by the Baha'i World News Service.

In a third case, the same court refused to permit a Christian convert from Islam to list his new religion on his identity papers. IOL News yesterday reported that the court held that Mohammed Higazi (Hegazy) had not followed the proper procedures and, in any event, could not convert "to an older religion." The court wrote: "Monotheistic religions were sent by God in chronological order... As a result, it is unusual to go from the latest religion to the one that preceded it." The AP reports that Hegazy has been the subject of police torture and death threats from his father and from an Islamist cleric after his 1998 conversion was discovered and when he was pictured in a newspaper posing with a poster of the Virgin Mary.