Sunday, August 12, 2007

Egypt Begins Soon Exclusive Use of New ID Document

Egypt's leading daily newspaper Al-Ahram published an article on 8 August 2007, in which it describes plans for the exclusive use of the new computerised national ID number/card and the total abandonment of the older paper ID documents.

Thus far, Baha'is remain prevented by the government from being issued the new ID cards, and are only in possession of the old paper documents. The only option given to them, as instructed by the Ministry of Interior, is that they must lie on the application form regarding their religious affiliation in order to obtain ID documents. They are given only three choices (Muslim Christian or Jew). The application form clearly states that any false statements made by the applicant will be punishable by imprisonment and heavy fines. The ID card system does not allow for any other options, such as leaving the space for religion blank.

The newspaper article indicates that it was decided that the new ID card will be "an essential element in all transactions." This was decided by Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazeef in a meeting on 7 August 2007 with the Minister of Interior as well as some other ministers.

The Prime Minister requested "a deadline" by which the use of the old paper ID card will stop. This will be accomplished very soon when nearly 90% of the population have been issued the new cards.

It was also reported in this article that according to a spokesperson of the Assembly of Ministries that the new ID system will be applied to "all services used by Egyptian citizens within the country." This includes all government transactions. Currently several ministries have been exclusively accepting the new ID card. These ministries are: Interior, Defense, Health and Justice.

"In preparation for this, it is expected that the Ministry of Interior will announce soon the complete cessation of the use of the old paper ID document."

The implications of this announcement are quite ominous. Soon the Baha'is and other religious minorities (except Muslims, Christians and Jews) will not be able to have any rights in their own society. It implies large-scale job firings and dismissals from universities. Already, Baha'is are unable to obtain health care and children cannot get vaccination in public institutions. In other words, Baha'is and any other religious minorities--if they exist--will suffer "civil death."

Additionally, Egyptian Baha'i university students have been expelled because they were unable to produce the required military draft postponement document, which requires the new ID card for it to be granted. One student was expelled just before graduation from his university. Another student, after passing his first year examination, was prevented from being promoted to the second year and was suspended from the university until he can produce his military draft document.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

This does not look good at all
if the Egyptian government fails to allow the Bahá’ís or other religions such as Hindu or Buddhists to either register their religion onto the documents or leave it blank, this will be the darkest day since the Romans began Persecuting early Christians...

Bill said...

One can only conclude that this is not mere bureaucratic bungling, but an orchestrated campaign aimed at destroying the Egyptian Baha'i community specifically. Even though it applies to other unrecognized religions, it appears that the Baha'is are the ones targeted. Hindus and Buddhists do not have, to my knowledge, any legal decrees issued against them.

Anonymous said...

Formerly it was the Jews who were guided by the Almighty God, Allah, to exit Egypt. If Baha'is are not loved and appreciated in this ancient land, they are greatly needed and wanted in other parts of the world. Perhaps it is time for another 'exodus', leaving Egypt to God, Allah, to do with it what He will.

Bilo said...

Bill,
To my knowledge, I am not aware of any native Egyptian Hindus or Buddhists. Thus any of those living in Egypt would not need ID cards since they are not Egyptian citizens.

Bilo said...

Anonymous-2,
I fully understand your comment, but Baha'is in Egypt, just like the Jews before exodus, are native to that land. They are citizens of Egypt. Can you imagine how anyone would feel if he or she is denied his or her God-given birth right to all privilages of citizenship?
If this is allowed to happen, then who is next? Coptic Christians!? And after that, who would be next to leave Egypt?

Marco said...

The whole thing reminds me of the caste system in India.

Is it this what Egyptians want for their country?

Is this the reason why Egypt was elected to the UN Council of Human Rights?

r.a. said...

This latest development is the result of years of peaceful and intelligent efforts by international governmental and human rights entities. The ever increasing admonitions made to advance the cause of human rights in Egypt are met with only a more obstinate determination to expand a program of abuse and oppression.

Anonymous said...

Would it be possible for the Egyptian Baha'is to rally as a group and start a class action suit against the government? So far we only heard of individual actions. I understand that some people might be afraid of retaliation but what is worse than being a non-citizen? The suit would certainly have more impact than that of lone individuals. No one wants to be singled out on a list but the Baha'is will be recognizable by their lack of I.D. anyways.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Egypt has a larger problem with Musilim Refugee streetgangs thant the Bahais...

http://www.reuters.com/article/inDepthNews/idUSL0548128020070814

Bilo said...

Anonymous-3,
I think this is a great and timely idea, i.e. class action suit.

Bilo said...

Anonymous-4,
Baha'is were never a problem for Egypt, it is Egypt that has created the problems for the Baha'is.

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