Thursday, May 1, 2008

Egypt's Baha'is struggle for ID Cards - Reuters - by Cynthia Johnston

Egypt's Baha'is struggle for ID papers - an article published in Reuters

Wed 30 Apr 2008, 12:27 GMT

By Cynthia Johnston

CAIRO (Reuters) - Official foot-dragging means Egypt's Baha'i religious minority is still struggling to get identity papers, despite a landmark court ruling seen as a challenge to the Muslim religious establishment, a rights group says.

A January court ruling lets the unrecognised Baha'i minority obtain state documents if they omit their faith. Baha'is regard their faith's 19th-century founder as the latest in a line of prophets including Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that three months after the court ruling, it was still unable to obtain proper identity documents for the teenage twins of Raouf Hindy, who had brought the legal case, or for any other Baha'is.

But the government had also not filed an appeal in the Baha'i case during a 60-day appeals period, raising optimism that the ruling would ultimately be put into effect, if slowly.
"We are encouraged by the positive signal that they did not appeal. But we think that all the necessary changes should not take three months," said Hossam Bahgat, head of the Egyptian Initiative, which represented the Baha'is in court.

Interior Ministry officials could not immediately be reached for comment. Bahgat said officials had told Baha'is who sought identity papers that they needed more time to implement changes.
The ruling should give members of Baha'i community access to documents, largely denied them since 2004, needed to marry, enrol in school, drive a car, or open a bank account.

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