Monday, January 23, 2012

Abdu'l-Baha Return to Egypt

From December 2nd, 1911 until the end of March 1912, Abdu'l-Baha Stayed in Egypt. On November 16th an article appeared in The Egyptian Gazette describing some tenants of the Faith and announcing Abdu'l-Baha return to Egypt. The following words appeared in a corresponding editorial:

Alexandria in the early 1910's

In the East his religion will find its true home and exercise its beneficent influence upon nations newly awakening to a sense of their unity and power. We can, then, welcome him back to Egypt, fresh from achievements in the Western capitals which have afforded yet another proof of his remarkable personal and intellectual powers.

These words were printed in The Star of the West and distributed amongst the friends. I can’t help but imagine what it would have been like to be one of those early North-American believers, reading about the Master’s travels, and anticipating His upcoming transatlantic voyage.

The opening prayer written by the Master and found at the beginning of The Star of the West, read in retrospect, becomes a tribute to those eager and thrilled souls:

O thou Star of the West!

Be thou happy! Be thou happy! Shouldst thou continue to remain firm and eternal, ere long, thou shalt become the Star of the East and shalt spread in every country and clime. Thou art the first paper of the Bahais which is organized in the country of America. Although for the present thy subscribers are limited, thy form is small and thy voice weak, yet shouldst though stand unshakable, become the object of attention of the friends and the centre of the generosity of the leaders of the faith who are firm in the Covenant, in the future thy subscribers will become hosts after hosts like unto waves of the sea; thy volume will increase, thy arena will become vast and spacious and thy voice and fame will be raised and become world-wide — at at last thou shalt become the first paper of the world of humanity. Yet all these depend unto firmness, firmness, firmness!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Egypt: A Baha'i Blogger's Take on the Elections

Wael speaks to Global Voices Online about the current situation of the Baha'is in Egypt and the changes that the current elections might bring.

Global Voices Online has spoken to Wael, who blogs at Living in Egypt without ID, about the current situation of the Baha’is in Egypt and the changes that the current elections (stage two of which starts on December 14) might bring.

Global Voices (GV): What is the current situation for the Baha’is in Egypt? What are the main problems the community faces?

Wael: As you know, identification documents, especially identity cards and birth certificates, are mandatory for all Egyptians and necessary to obtain access to education, employment, family life, registration and immunization of children, as well as most basic daily activities such as opening a bank account, obtaining a driver’s license, receiving pension or inheritance, or engaging in business transactions.

Most of the Egyptian Baha’is do not have official IDs to allow them to attain any of the above. In addition, they have been barred from holding government jobs, and that situation has not changed as yet. Baha’i marriages are still not recognized in Egypt, and that results in difficulties in obtaining birth certificates for Baha’i children.

While the Supreme Administrative Court ruled that Baha’is should be able to obtain official Egyptian identification cards, the implementation of this ruling has moved very slowly. A few Baha’is were successful in obtaining their IDs with a dash “—“ in the space designated for religion instead of adding the word Baha’i. However, the majority of Baha’is, including myself, have not been successful in obtaining official IDs. The major issue is providing required evidence that their parents were listed as Baha’is or have dashes in the space designated for religion in their IDs, same thing for their birth certificates. On the other hand, married couples can’t obtain official IDs since the Egyptian government does not recognize Baha’i marriage. Therefore so many Baha’is find themselves in a Catch-22 situation. Married or divorced Baha’is are unable to obtain their IDs. The Baha’is in Egypt are determined to obtain their citizenship rights and overcome the bureaucratic hurdles in implementing the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision.

Baha’i centers, properties, libraries, land for a House of Worship, and cemeteries that were confiscated by the Egyptian government in 1960 have not been returned to the Baha’is in Egypt. Baha’is are still banned from forming spiritual assemblies in Egypt. Naturally, the Baha’is in Egypt will continue to practice their religion inside their own homes.

GV: What do you think the result of the current elections will be? Do you feel there will be any changes for the Baha’i community?

Wael: Baha’is are quite optimistic about the future of their country in the long-term. However, Egypt is currently facing problems of corruption and divisions that have been perpetuated and exacerbated by the “divide and rule” mentality. Baha’is call their fellow citizens to unite in their pursuit of freedom, democracy, and development. All Egyptians need to live in dignity. They need a decent education for their children and youth; all expect to be treated equal regardless of their religion or beliefs. Egyptians uphold the rights of women to participate fully in all aspects of human endeavor. Finally, Egyptians have the responsibility to make these goals happen.

Baha’is believe that all people should be treated with respect, dignity and equality, regardless of their social and economic status and of their gender or religion. They will continue to demand their human and civil rights. Baha’is will contribute their part of promoting unity, dignity, and freedom. To quote Baha’u’llah, the prophet founder of the Baha’i faith, “So Powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” Egyptians are in a unique position to determine their country’s own unique model of democracy and not blindly follow existing models founded on consumerism and rampant greed. Such a system can reflect the ideals of our youth: good moral character, respect, responsibility, and humility to uphold this generation’s ideals of justice, fairness, freedom, and compassion for all. Egyptian society possesses the potential to evolve a new unique system that is based on personal responsibility, compassion, and serving the common good, and not on greed, fear, and division.

GV: Baha’i teachings prohibit Baha’is from getting involved in partisan politics; does this mean they can't vote in the elections?

Wael: While Baha’is refrain from getting involved in partisan politics, they nonetheless participate in the political process by casting their votes for candidates who in their opinion combine the qualities of unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience. Baha’is prefer to focus on the politics of unity rather than division. They do not vote in blocs nor do they endorse a specific candidate or party. Baha’is who are in possession of their IDs can participate in the elections. However, most Baha’is are unable to vote in the elections, as they do not have the official IDs.

GV: Are there other ways Baha’is can get involved in movements for progress in society?

Wael: Baha’is are involved through their jobs, schools, universities, homes, and neighborhoods of promoting unity, as they believe in the oneness of God, the oneness of His Religion, and the oneness of humanity. In their work and day-to-day living, they are committed to serve their neighborhoods and society, as in the Baha’i teachings work performed with the intent to serve humanity is equated with worship.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Abdu'l-Baha in Egypt

One hundred years have passed since the arrival of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Egypt in September, 1910. He remained in Port Said for one month and then moved to Alexandria in August, 1911. Then he continued His journey to Europe from August, 1911 then returning to Egypt in December, 1911. Subsequently he left Egypt going to New York, on March, 1912 and then coming back to Egypt in June 1913 and then returned to Haifa. His visit was welcomed by the government of Egypt and its leaders. Destiny determined that Alexandria become a home for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and a stopover for His comings and goings during His travels in western countries over a period of three years. From the time of [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival in Egypt], he resides in Alexandria. His presence attracted the attention of many Egyptian political leaders, leaders of thought, writers, journalists and clergy, who hastened to pay Him their respects. The news items and articles that were published by His visitors and reporters from various journals were like a proclamation of the Bahá’í Faith.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá (known in the literature of Egypt as Abbas Effendi) received a warm welcome and expressions of appreciation from the Egyptian government and population, when upon His arrival He was able to dispel the misconceptions and doubts that a vicious consul of Iran had disseminated in government circles and among Muslim scholars to tarnish the good name of the Bahá’í Faith and suppress its truth. During His stay, He gave bountifully to all of that boundless knowledge, magnanimity and love, of which He was the unique bearer.

In 1910, on the 19th of September, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram published news of the unannounced visit to their country of the “leader of the Bahai Faith”. The news article stated: “Abbas Effendi left His residence in the city of ‘Akká a few days ago for Port Said, an event that has precipitated His Persian followers residing in Egypt to hasten to that city to be blessed by visiting Him. This surprise visit has given rise to speculation and controversial claims between His opponents and supporters about its motive.

Friday, April 8, 2011

An Open Letter From the Baha'is of Egypt to all Egyptians

Our fellow citizens:

The events of recent months have provided us, the Bahá’ís of Egypt, with an opportunity we have never experienced before: to communicate directly with you, our brothers and sisters. Though small in number, we are privileged to belong to this land wherein, for more than a hundred years, we have endeavoured to live by the principles enshrined in our Faith and striven to serve our country as upright citizens.

This chance is one for which we have longed—especially because we have wished to express our thanks to those countless fair-minded, compassionate souls who supported our efforts in the last few years to obtain a measure of equality before the law. But we rejoice primarily in the fact that, at such a critical juncture in our nation’s history, we are able to make a humble contribution to the conversation which has now begun about its future and to share some perspectives, drawn from our own experience and that of Bahá’ís throughout the world, as to the prerequisites for walking the path towards lasting material and spiritual prosperity.

Whatever directly motivated the rapid change that has occurred, the outcome demonstrates the collective desire of us all, the people of Egypt, to exercise greater control over our destiny. The freedom to do so is unfamiliar to us, having not previously enjoyed this degree of liberty. And our collective history, as Egyptians, Arabs, and Africans, has taught us that there is no shortage of self-interested forces in the world that would prevent us from determining our own future or, alternatively, would invite us to voluntarily abdicate this responsibility. Colonialism, religious orthodoxy, authoritarian rule, and outright tyranny have all played their part in the past. Today, the “gentler” force of consumerism and the erosion of morality which it fosters are equally capable of holding us back, under the pretence of making us more free.

The fact that, as a people, we have chosen to become actively involved in determining the direction of our nation is a public sign that our society has reached a new stage in its development. A planted seed grows gradually and organically, and evolves through stages of increasing strength until it attains to a state that is recognizably “mature”; human societies share this trait too. At a certain time, dissatisfaction grows within a population at being held back from full participation in the processes that steer the course of a country, and the desire for more responsibility to be ceded to the citizens becomes overwhelming. Set in this context, the events that have taken place in Egypt can be seen as a response to forces that are, in fact, drawing the entire human race towards greater maturity and interdependence. One indication that humanity is advancing in this direction is that aspects of conduct which did not seem out of place in an earlier age—behaviours that resulted in conflict, corruption, and inequality—are increasingly seen as incompatible with the values that underpin a just society. Over time, people everywhere are becoming bolder in rejecting the attitudes and systems that prevented their progress towards maturity. The movement towards greater maturity is thus a global phenomenon. Still, it does not follow that all nations and peoples advance along the path at a uniform speed. At certain points, circumstances may converge upon a historically significant moment wherein a particular society can fundamentally re-direct its course. At such times, an expression of collective will can have a decisive and abiding effect on the future of the country. Egypt has arrived at precisely such a moment. It will not last forever.

At this juncture, then, we face the weighty question of what we seek to achieve with the opportunity we have acquired. What are the choices before us? Many models of collective living are on offer and being championed by various interested parties. Are we to move towards an individualistic, fragmented society, wherein all feel liberated to pursue their own interests, even at the expense of the common good? Will we be tempted by the lures of materialism and its beholden agent, consumerism? Will we opt for a system that feeds on religious fanaticism? Are we prepared to allow an elite to emerge that will be oblivious to our collective aspirations, and may even seek to manipulate our desire for change? Or, will the process of change be allowed to lose momentum, dissolve into factional squabbling, and crumble under the weight of institutional inertia? It might justly be argued that, looking across the Arab region—and, indeed, beyond—the world wants for an unquestionably successful model of society worthy of emulation. Thus, if no existing model proves to be satisfactory, we might well consider charting a different course, and perhaps demonstrate to the community of nations that a new, truly progressive approach to the organization of society is possible. Egypt’s stature in the international order—its intellectual tradition, its history, its location—means that an enlightened choice on its part could influence the course of human development in the entire region, and impact even the world.

Too often, change brought about by popular protest eventually results in disappointment. This is not because the movement that provided the catalyst for change lacks unity—indeed, its ability to foster unity among disparate peoples and interests is the essential feature that ensured its success—but rather because the realization quickly dawns that it is far easier to find common cause against the status quo than it is to agree upon what should replace it. That is why it is vital that we endeavour to achieve broad consensus on the operating principles that are to shape a new model for our society. Once agreement is reached, the policies that follow are far more likely to attract the support of the populations whom they affect.

A natural temptation, when considering how our nation should progress, is to immediately seek to devise practical solutions to recognized grievances and acknowledged societal problems. But even if worthy ideas were to emerge, they would not constitute in themselves a compelling vision of how we wish our country to develop. The essential merit of principle is that, if it wins support, it induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Yet a discussion of principles must be prepared to move beyond the level of abstraction. At the conceptual level, it may prove relatively easy to bring about agreement on a set of guiding principles, but without an examination of their ramifications they may amount to little more than empty slogans. An attempt to reach consensus should allow for the most searching exploration of the specific, and profound, implications that the adoption of a particular principle would carry for our nation. It is in that spirit, then, that the following principles are set out.

A mature society demonstrates one feature above all others: a recognition of the oneness of humanity. How fortunate, then, that the most abiding memory of recent months is not of religious divisions or ethnic conflict, but of differences being put aside in favour of a common cause. Our instinctive ability, as a people, to recognize the truth that we all belong to one human family served us well. Nevertheless, to develop institutions, agencies, and social structures that promote the oneness of humanity is an altogether greater challenge. Far from being an expression of vague and pious hope, this principle informs the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family. Its genesis lies in the recognition that we were all created out of the same substance by the one Creator, and therefore, it is indefensible for one person, tribe, or nation to claim superiority over another. Its acceptance would require an organic change in the structure of present-day society, a change with far-reaching consequences for every aspect of our collective life. And beyond its societal implications, it calls for a profound re-examination of each of our own attitudes, values, and relationships with others—ultimately, for a transformation in the human heart. None of us are exempt from its exacting demands.

The ramifications of this fundamental truth—the oneness of humanity—are so profound that many other vital principles, essential for the future development of Egypt, can be derived from it. A prime example is the equality of men and women. Does anything retard progress in our country more efficiently than the persistent exclusion of women from full participation in the affairs of the nation? Redressing this balance will by itself bring about improvement in every aspect of Egyptian life: religious, cultural, social, economic, and political. Like the bird that cannot fly if one wing is weaker than the other, so humanity’s ability to scale the heights of real attainment are severely impeded so long as women are denied the opportunities afforded to men. Once the same prerogatives are accorded both sexes, they will both flourish, to the benefit of all. But beyond the matter of civil rights, the principle of gender equality brings with it an attitude that must be extended to the home, to the workplace, to every social space, to the political sphere—ultimately, even to international relations.

Nowhere could the equality of the sexes more helpfully be established than in education, which exists to enable men and women of every background to fulfil their innate potential to contribute to the progress of society. If it is to succeed, it must offer adequate preparation for participation in the economic life of the nation, but so, too, it must possess a robust moral dimension. Schools must impress upon their students the responsibilities inherent in being a citizen of Egypt and inculcate those values that tend toward the betterment of society and care for one’s fellow human beings. Education cannot be allowed to be the means whereby disunity and hatred of others are instilled into innocent minds. With the right approach, it can also become an effective instrument for protecting future generations from the insidious blight of corruption that so conspicuously afflicts present-day Egypt. Furthermore, access to basic education must be universal, regardless of any distinctions based on gender, ethnicity, or means. Strategies for harnessing the resources of our nation—our heritage, our agriculture, our industry—will prove fruitless if we neglect the most important resource of all: our own God-given spiritual and intellectual capacities. To prioritize improving the means by which we educate ourselves will yield an abundant harvest in the years to come.

Related to the topic of education is the interaction between science and religion, twin sources of insight that humanity can draw upon as it seeks to achieve progress. It is a blessing that Egyptian society, as a whole, does not assume that the two must be in conflict, a perception sadly commonplace elsewhere. Indeed, we possess a proud history of fostering a spirit of rational and scientific enquiry—with admirable results in the areas of farming and medicine, to name but two—while retaining a strong religious tradition and respect for the values promulgated by the world’s great faiths. There is nothing in such values that should incline us toward irrational thinking or fanaticism. All of us, especially our younger generation, can be conscious that it is possible for individuals to be imbued with sincere spirituality while actively labouring for the material progress of their nation.

Our nation is blessed by an abundance of youth. Some amongst us are in education; some are beginning careers or starting families; some, though older, remember what it was like to pass through those stages of life. Reform of the education system will go a long way towards ensuring that the potential of the younger generation to contribute to the life of society is realized; however, by itself, that is not sufficient. Conditions must be nurtured so that opportunities for meaningful employment multiply, talent is harnessed, and possibilities to progress are accessed on the basis of merit, not privilege. Disenchantment will grow if, because of persistent corruption, inequality, and neglect, the efforts youth make to improve the conditions of families, communities, and neighbourhoods are thwarted at every turn. The high aspirations of the young represent a trust that society as a whole—indeed, the state itself—cannot afford, either economically or morally, to ignore.

This is not to say that youth are in need of special privileges. Much of the dissatisfaction that younger adults have expressed in recent months comes from an acute awareness that they lack equality of opportunity, not preferential treatment. From the conditions faced by the youth and by so many others in our society it is clear that pre-eminent among the principles that should propel the renewal we seek is justice. Its far-reaching implications are at the core of most of the issues on which we must, as a people, agree. And it is from the interplay of the two vital principles of justice and the oneness of humanity that an important truth emerges: each individual comes into the world as a trust of the whole, and the collective resources of the human race should therefore be expended for the benefit of all, not just a fraction. Neglect of this ideal has a particularly destabilizing influence on society, as extremes of wealth and poverty exacerbate existing social tensions and provoke unrest. Measures to alleviate poverty cannot ignore the existence of extreme wealth, for where there are inordinate riches accumulated by the few, the many will not escape impoverishment.

Considered only in the abstract, perhaps few will dispute the essential merit of the principles discussed here. Yet, their implementation would have profound political, economic, social, and personal implications, which render them more challenging than they may appear at first. But regardless of the principles to be adopted, their capacity to imprint themselves on our emerging society will depend in large measure on the degree to which Egyptians have embraced them. For to the extent that all can be enabled to participate in the consultative processes that affect us—so that we tread the path towards becoming protagonists of our own material and spiritual development—will we avoid the risk of our society falling into the pattern of any of the existing models that see no advantage in empowering the people.

The challenge before us, then, is to initiate a process of consultation about the principles that are to inform the reshaping of our society. This is a painstaking task. To fashion from divergent conceptions a coherent set of principles with the creative power to unify our population will be no small accomplishment. However, we can be confident that every sincere effort invested for this purpose will be richly rewarded by the release, from our own selves, of a fresh measure of those constructive energies on which our future depends. In such a broadly based national conversation—engaging people at all levels, in villages and in cities, in neighbourhoods and in the home, extending to the grassroots of society and drawing in every concerned citizen—it will be vital that the process not move too quickly to the pragmatic and the expedient, and not be reduced to the deals and decisions involved in the distribution of power among a new elite who would presume to become the arbiters of our future.

The ongoing and wide-scale involvement of the population in such a consultative process will go a long way towards persuading the citizenry that policy-makers have the creation of a just society at heart. Given the opportunity to participate in such a process, we will be confirmed in our newly awakened consciousness that we have ownership of our own future and come to realize the collective power we already possess to transform ourselves.

Friday, April 1, 2011

رسالة من المصريين البهائيين الى كل المصريين

إخوتنا وأخواتنا في الوطن

لا شكّ أنّ أحداث الأشهر القليلة الماضية في مصر قد منحتنا، نحن المواطنين البهائيين، فرصةً لم نعهدها من قبل في أن نخاطب مباشرة إخوتنا وأخواتنا في الوطن. ومع قلّة عددنا، كان لنا حظّ الانتماء إلى هذا الوطن العزيز الذي دأبنا أن نعيش فيه منذ أكثر من قرنٍ من الزمان طبقاً لمبادئ ديننا وقِيَمه، باذلين جهدنا في خدمة بلدنا كمواطنين مخلصين. إنّها فرصة طالما تمنّيناها وفي أعماقنا شكر دفين لذلك العدد الغفير من أصحاب العقول المنصفة والنفوس المتعاطفة التي آزرتنا في جهودنا خلال السنوات القليلة الماضية في سبيل أن نحظى بقسط من المساواة أمام القانون. ففي هذا المنعطف الدقيق من تاريخ أمتنا، تغمرنا البهجة ونحن نرى أن باستطاعتنا أن نقدم إسهاماً متواضعاً في الحوار الدائر الآن فيما يخصّ مستقبل بلادنا، فنشارككم بشيء من وجهات نظرنا من منطلق خبرتنا كمواطنين مصريين وما لدى مجتمعاتنا البهائية في العالم من تجارب، طبقاً لما يستدعيه المضي قُدُماً نحو الازدهار الدائم مادياً وروحياً.

مهما كان الدافع المباشر وراء هذا التغيير السريع الذي حدث، فإن نتائجه قد دلّلت على أُمنيتنا الجماعيّة، نحن شعب مصر كله، في أن نمارس قدراً أكبر من الحرية في التحكم بمصيرنا. إن ممارسة مثل هذه الحرية لم تكن مألوفة لنا لأننا حُرمنا في السابق من التمتع بهذا القدر منها. لقد علّمنا تاريخنا المشترك؛ كمصريين وعرب وأفارقة، بأن العالم زاخر بالقوى ذات المصالح الذاتية التي بامكانها أن تمنعنا من تقرير مصيرنا أو تدعونا إلى التخلي عن هذه المسؤولية طواعية. ثم إنّ الاستعمار والتّزمّت الديني والحُكْم التسلطي والاستبداد السافر، لعب كلٌّ دوره في الماضي، أمّا اليوم فلا تزال القوة “الألطف” للنظام الاستهلاكي وما يتبنّاه من انحطاط أخلاقي، لقادرة بالمثل على إعاقة تقدمنا بذريعة جعلنا أكثر تمتُّعًا بالحرية المنشودة.

وكوننا كشعب واحد، اخترنا الانخراط بفعالية ونشاط في تحديد مسار أمتنا، فهو مؤشر شعبي عام بأن مجتمعنا المصري قد بلغ مرحلة جديدة في مسيرة تطوّره. فالبذرة المغروسة تنبت تدريجيًا وعضويًا وتتحول في مراحل نشوئها وتزيد قوتها حتى تبلغ حالة تعتبر فيها “ناضجة”. وكذا المجتمعات الإنسانية تشترك معها في هذه السمة المميزة. ففي وقت من الأوقات تنمو مشاعر السخط وعدم الرضا عند شعب من الشعوب نتيجة منعه من المشاركة الكاملة في العمليات التي تقود مسار بلاده، وتصبح الرغبة طاغية لدى المواطنين في أن تتنازل السلطة عن مزيد من المسؤولية لهم في ادارة شؤون بلادهم. في هذا السياق، نرى أن الأحداث التي شهدتها مصر يمكن اعتبارها، في واقع الأمر تجاوباً لقوى تدفع بالجنس البشري قاطبة نحو نضوج أكبر وتكافل أعظم. وواحد من الأدلة الواضحة على أنّ البشرية سائرة في هذا الاتجاه هو أن أوجهًا من السلوك الإنساني الذي كان في الماضي القريب مقبولاً وتسبَّبَ في بعث روح النزاع والفساد والتمييز، نراه اليوم بعيوننا، وبشكل متزايد، يتناقض والقيم التي تسود في مجتمع العدل والإنصاف الذي ننشده. وعليه، أصبح الناس في كل مكان أكثر جرأة في رفض المواقف والأنظمة التي حالت دون تقدمهم نحو النضج.

إن التقدم نحو حالة أعظم من النضج هي الآن ظاهرة عمّت العالم بأسره، ومع ذلك فإن هذا لا يعني أن كل أمم الأرض وشعوبها تتقدم على هذا الدرب بسرعة متماثلة. فعند مرحلة معينة قد تتلاقى الظروف والأحوال القائمة آنذاك في لحظة تاريخية هامة حيث يمكن لمجتمع ما أن يعدّل من مساره بشكل أساسي. في أوقات كهذه يكون التعبير عن المشيئة الجماعية ذا أثر حاسم ومستدام بالنسبة لمستقبل البلاد. وقد بلغت مصر الآن مثل هذه اللحظة بالذات، وهي لحظة لا يمكن أن تدوم إلى الأبد.

عند هذا المنعطف الدقيق، نجد أنفسنا إذاً أمام سؤال هام وخطير: ماذا نسعى إلى تحقيقه في هذه الفرصة التي سنحت وحصلنا عليها؟ ثم ما هي الخيارات المطروحة أمامنا؟ فهناك العديد من نماذج العيش المشترك معروضة أمامنا تدافع عنها وتناصرها جماعات من الناس مختلفة ولها اهتماماتها الخاصة. فالسؤال هنا: هل لنا أن نتّجه نحو إقامة مجتمع فرداني ومجزأ، حيث يشعر الكل فيه بأنهم أحرار في السعي في سبيل مصالحهم حتى ولو كان ذلك على حساب الصالح العام؟ هل سوف تستهوينا المغريات المادية الدنيوية وعنصرها الجاذب المؤثر والمتمثلة في النظام الاستهلاكي؟ هل سوف نختار نظامًا يتغذى على العصبية الدينية؟ وهل نحن على استعداد للسماح بقيام نخبة تحكمنا متناسية طموحاتنا الجماعية، لا بل وتسعى الى استغلال رغبتنا في التغيير واستبدالها بشيء آخر؟ أم هل سنسمح لمسيرة التغيير بأن تفقد زخمها وقوة اندفاعها فتتلاشى في خضم النزاعات الفئوية الصاخبة وتنهار تحت وطأة الجمود الإداري للمؤسسات القائمة وفقدانها القوة على المضي والاستمرار؟ وبالنظر إلى المنطقة العربية – وإلى خارجها في الواقع – من المنصف القول إنّ العالم، توّاق إلى العثور على نموذج ناجح بالاجماع لمجتمع جديرٌ محاكاته. ولذا لعله يكون من الأجدر بنا، في حال أثبت البحث عدم وجود نموذج قائم مُرْضٍ، أن نفكر في رسم نهج لمسار مختلف ونبرهن للشعوب بأن من الممكن فعلاً اعتماد نهج تقدمي حقيقي لتنظيم المجتمع. إنّ مكانة مصر الرفيعة في المنظومة الدولية – بما لها من تراث فكري، وتاريخ عريق وموقع جغرافي – يعني كل هذا بأن مصر إذا ما أقدمت على اختيار نموذج متنور لبناء مجتمعها، فلسوف تؤثر على مسار النمو والتطور الإنساني في المنطقة كلّها بل وعلى العالم بأسره.

في أحيان كثيرة، يسفر التغيير الذي يتأتى عن الاحتجاج الشعبي عن خيبةٍ لبعض الآمال. والسبب في هذا ليس لأنّ الحركة التي ولّدت ذلك العامل الفاعل في التغيير والتحول تفتقر إلى الوحدة والاتحاد، بل في الحقيقة فإنّ أبرز خصائص هذا العامل الفاعل في ضمان نجاحه يتمثّل في قدرته على خلق الوحدة والاتحاد بين أناس تباينت مشاربهم واختلفت مصالحهم. أما خيبة الأمل هذه فتكون بالأحرى نتيجة إدراك أن اتحاد الناس في دفاعهم عن قضية مشتركة ضد أي وضع راهن أسهل بكثير من اتفاقهم على ما يجب أن يأخذ مكانه. لهذا السبب بات من الضروري جدًا أن نسعى جهدنا لتحقيق اجماع واسع في الرأي حول المبادئ والسياسات العاملة على ايجاد أنموذج جديد لمجتمعنا. وحالما يتم التوصل إلى مثل هذا الاتفاق يصبح من المرجح جدًا أن السياسات التي ستتبع ستجتذب وتفوز بتأييد أفراد الشعب الذين تؤثر هذه السياسات على مجرى شؤونهم.

إنه دافع طبيعي مُغْرٍ، ونحن نفكر كيف يمكن لأمتنا أن تُكمل مسيرتها، أن نبادر فورًا إلى استنباط الحلول العملية لمعالجة المظالم المُسلّم بها والمشكلات الاجتماعية المتعارف عليها. لكن، حتى ولو برزت أفكار جديرة بالاهتمام فإنّها لن تمثل في حدّ ذاتها رؤية ذات أثر فاعل في تحديد كيف نريد لبلدنا أن ينمو ويزدهر. فالميزة الرئيسة للمبدأ هي أنه إذا فاز بالدعم والتأييد فإنه يساعد على اتخاذ المواقف الايجابية، وبعث الفعالية المؤثرة والعزيمة القوية والطموح الناشط. فيسهّل ذلك في اكتشاف الخطوات العملية وطرق تنفيذها. ولكن يجدر بالمشتركين في أي نقاش حول المبادئ، أن يكونوا على استعداد لتخطّي مستوى الفكر التجريدي. ففي مرحلة صياغة الأفكار حولها قد يكون من السهل نسبيًا أن يتم الاتفاق على عدد من المبادئ التوجيهية، ولكنها لن تكون أكثر من شعارات جوفاء إذا لم نُخضِعها لفحص دقيق نستطلع فيه عواقبها المتشعبة وآثارها المختلفة. وينبغي لأيّة محاولة للتوصل إلى إجماع في الرأي أن تساعد على إجراء استطلاع فاحص للآثار الخاصة والأبعاد العميقة المترتبة على اعتماد أي مبدأ من هذه المبادئ بالنسبة لمقدّرات وطننا العزيز. وبهذه الروح اذًا يمكن لنا أن نعرض عليكم بكل تواضع ومحبة المبادئ التابع ذكرها.

تبرز في أي مجتمع ناضج ميزة واحدة فوق كل الميزات الاخرى ألا وهي الاعتراف بوحدة الجنس البشري. فكم كان من حسن الطالع إذًا أنّ أكثر الذكريات رسوخًا في الذهن عن الأشهر القليلة الماضية ليست عن انقسامات دينية أو صراعات عرقية، وإنما عن خلافات نحّيت جانبًا من أجل قضيتنا المشتركة. فقدرتنا الفطرية، كشعب واحد، على الإدراك والإقرار بأننا كلنا في الحقيقة ننتمي إلى أسرة إنسانية واحدة خدمتنا جيدًا وأفادتنا. ومع ذلك فإن إقامة وتطوير المؤسسات والدوائر والبُنى الهيكليّة الاجتماعية التي تعزز مبدأ وحدة الجنس البشري تشكّل تحديًا كبيرًا بكل معنى الكلمة. إن هذا المبدأ القائل بوحدة العالم الإنساني البعيد كلّ البعد عن كونه تعبيرًا مبهمًا عن أملٍ زائفٍ، هو الذي يحدد طبيعة تلك العلاقات التي يجب أن تربط بين كل الدول والأمم وتشدها كأعضاء أسرة إنسانية واحدة. ويكمن أصل هذا المبدأ في الإقرار بأننا خلقنا جميعًا من عنصر واحد وبيد خالق واحد هو الله عزّ وجلّ. ولذا فإن ادّعاء فرد واحد أو قبيلة أو أمّة بالتعالي والتفوق على الغير ادّعاء باطل ليس له ما يبرره. فقبول مثل هذا المبدأ يستدعي تغييرًا شاملاً في بنية المجتمع المعاصر وتغييرًا ذا نتائج واسعة الأثر بعيدة المدى لكل وجه من أوجه حياتنا الجماعية. ويدعو هذا المبدأ، علاوة على ما يخلقه من آثار ونتائج اجتماعية، إلى إعادة النظر بدقة متفحصة في كل مواقفنا مع الآخرين وقيمنا وعلاقتنا معهم. فالهدف في نهاية الأمر هو إحياء الضمير الإنساني وتغييره. ولن يُستثنى أي واحدٍ منّا فيتفادى الانصياع لهذه المطالب الصارمة.

إن النتائج المترتبة عن هذه الحقيقة الجوهرية – أي مبدأ وحدة العالم الإنساني- عميقة لدرجة أن مبادئ أخرى حيوية وضرورية لتطور مصر المستقبلي يمكن أن تستمدّ منها. ومن الأمثلة ذات الأهمية الأولى على ذلك هي مسألة المساواة بين الرجال والنساء. فهل هناك من أمر يعيق تقدم بلادنا العزيزة أكثر من الاستثناء المستمر للمرأة واستبعادها من المشاركة الكاملة في شؤون بلادنا. إن إصلاح الخلل في هذا التوازن سيقود بحدّ ذاته إلى إدخال اصلاحات وتحسينات في كل مجال من مجالات الحياة المصرية الدينية والثقافية والاجتماعية والاقتصادية والسياسية. فالإنسانية، مثلها مثل الطائر الذي لا يستطيع التحليق إذا كان أحد جناحيه أضعف من الآخر، فستظل قدرتها على السمو الى أعالي الاهداف المبتغاة معاقة جدًا ما دامت المرأة محرومة من الفرص المتاحة للرجل. فعندما تكون الامتيازات ذاتها متاحة ً للجنسين فإنهما سيرتقيان ويعود النفع على الجميع. ولكن مبدأ المساواة بين الجنسين يجلب معه، بالإضافة إلى الحقوق المدنية، سلوكًا يجب أن يطال البيت ومكان العمل وكل حيّزٍ اجتماعي ومجال سياسي وحتى العلاقات الدولية في نهاية المطاف.

ولا يوجد مجال أجدر وأكثر عونًا في تحقيق المساواة بين الجنسين من التعليم الذي وجد أصلاً ليمكّن الرجال والنساء من كل الخلفيات الاجتماعية، من تحقيق كامل طاقاتهم وامكاناتهم الفطرية والمساهمة في رقي المجتمع وتقدّمه. وإذا كان لهذا الأمر أن يلقى النجاح، فلا بد من تقديم إعدادٍ وافٍ للفرد حتى يشارك في الحياة الاقتصادية للبلاد، ولكن لا بدّ للتعليم أيضًا أن يخلق بُعداً اخلاقياً متيناً. فينبغي على المدارس أن ترسّخ في أذهان الطلاب المسؤوليات المترتبة على كونهم مواطنين مصريين وتغرس في نفوسهم تلك المبادئ والقيم الداعية الى تحسين المجتمع ورعاية مصالح إخوانهم من بني البشر. ولا ينبغي السماح لأن يصبح التعليم وسيلة لبثّ الفرقة والكراهية تجاه الآخرين وغرسها في العقول البريئة. ويمكن بالأسلوب التربوي الصحيح أيضًا، أن يصبح التعليم أداة فاعلة لحماية أجيال المستقبل من آفة الفساد الخبيثة والتي ابتلينا بها وأصبحت واضحة المعالم في مصرنا اليوم. علاوة على ذلك فإن الحصول على التعليم الرسمي الأساسي يجب أن يكون في متناول الجميع بصورة شاملة دون أي تمييز قائم على الجنس أو العرق أو الإمكانات المادية. وستثبت التدابير التي سوف نتخذها للاستفادة من موارد بلادنا الحبيبة – تراثنا وزراعتنا وصناعتنا – بأنها تدابير عقيمة إذا نحن أهملنا أهم الموارد شأنًا، ألا وهي قدراتنا الروحية والفكرية التي أنعم بها علينا الله عزّ وجل. ولذا فإن وضع سلّم للأولويات في محاولة تحسين الوسائل التي نعلّم ونثقف بها أنفسنا لسوف يجني محصولاً وفيرًا في الأعوام القادمة.

ومن الأمور ذات العلاقة بموضوع التربية والتعليم مسألة التفاعل بين العلم والدين، المصدرين التوأمين للبصيرة التي يمكن للبشرية الاعتماد عليهما في سعيها لتحقيق التقدم والرقي. ويتمتع المجتمع المصري ككلّ بنعمةٍ تتمثّل بأنه لا يفترض التعارض والتناقض بين العلم والدين، وهو مفهوم غير مألوف في أمكنة أخرى بكل أسف. فنحن بالفعل نملك تاريخاً يبعث على الاعتزاز من حيث الاعتماد على روح العقلانية والبحث العلمي – مما تمخّض عن نتائج تدعو إلى الإعجاب في مجالات نخصّ بالذكر منها الزراعة والطب – كما حافظنا على تراث ديني متين واحترام للقيم التي جاءت بها وأعلنتها أديان العالم الكبرى. فلا يوجد في هذه القيم ما يدفعنا إلى التفكير المنافي للعقل والمنطق أو ما يقودنا إلى التزمت والتعصب. فكل واحد منا، لا سيما جيلنا الصاعد، يمكنه أن يعي أن بالإمكان تشرّب الأفراد بالروحانية الصادقة بينما يجدّون بنشاط في سبيل التقدم المادي لشعبهم.

لقد بارك الله أمّتنا بأعدادٍ غفيرةٍ من الشباب. فبعضنا لا يزال على مقاعد الدراسة، وبعض بدأ حياته المهنية أو العائلية، والبعض الآخر الذي ربما كان أكبر سنًا لا يزال يذكر ما كانت عليه الأمور عبر هذه المراحل من مراحل الحياة. إنّ إصلاح نظام التربية والتعليم سوف يؤدي الى قطع شوطٍ طويلٍ نحو ضمان تحقيق قدرات الجيل الصاعد في المساهمة في حياة المجتمع، غير أن هذا ليس كافيًا بحدّ ذاته، فلا بدّ من تعزيز الظروف بحيث تتضاعف فرص العمل بشكلٍ جاد ويتم تسخير المواهب، وتصبح امكانية التقدم على أساسٍ من الاستحقاق والجدارة لا التميّز والمحسوبية. وستتزايد مشاعر الإحباط وتتبدد الآمال اذا ما تمّ اعاقة جهود الشباب لتحسين ظروف العائلات والمجتمعات والأحياء بسبب استمرار آفة الفساد وعدم المساواة والاهمال. فطموحات الشباب السامية وتطلعاتهم العالية تمثّل ائتمانًا لا يملك المجتمع ككلّ – وحتى الدولة في الواقع – تجاهله اقتصادياً أو معنويًا.

هذا لا يعني القول بأن الشباب بحاجة إلى التمتع بامتيازات خاصة، فمعظم الاستياء الذي عبّر عنه الشباب الراشدون في الأسابيع الماضية نابع من وعي حاد بأنهم يفتقرون إلى تساوي الفرص وليس أفضلية المعاملة. ويتضح جليًا من الأحوال التي يواجهها الشباب والكثيرون من أفراد مجتمعنا أن من بين المبادئ البارزة التي يجب أن تدفع سعينا إلى التجدد الذي نبتغيه، هو مبدأ العدل. فالمضامين البالغة الأثر لتطبيق هذا المبدأ وتبعاتها بعيدة المدى إنما هي في صميم القضايا التي يتحتم علينا كأُمّةٍ أن نتفق عليها. فمن تفاعل المبدأين الحيويين للعدالة ووحدة العالم الانساني تبرز حقيقةٌ هامةٌ وهي أنّ: كل فردٍ يأتي إلى هذا العالم إنما هو أمانةٌ على الجميع، وأن الموارد الجماعية المشتركة للجنس البشري يجب أن تتوسع وتمتد ليستفيد منها الكل وليس مجرد فئة محدودة. فالتغاضي عن مثل هذا الهدف وإهماله له آثاره المؤدية بالضرورة إلى زعزعة المجتمع، حيث أن التناقض المفرط القائم بين الفقر والثراء سيؤدي الى استفحال التوترات الاجتماعية القائمة ويثير الاضطرابات. إن التدابير المتخذة لتخفيف وطأة الفقر لا يمكنها أن تتجاهل وجود الثراء المفرط، فحين تتكدس الثروات الهائلة عند قلة من الناس، لا مفرّ للكثرة الغالبة من معاناة الفقر والعوز.

لعلّ قلّة من الناس ستعارض الجدوى الأساسية للمبادئ التي جرى بحثها في هذه الرسالة. ومع ذلك، فإن تطبيقها سيكون له تبعات سياسية واقتصادية واجتماعية وشخصية عميقة تجعلها أكثر تحديًا مما قد تبدو في بداية الأمر. ولكن بغضّ النظر عن المبادئ التي سيتم تبنّيها، فإن قدرتها على ترك طابعها الخاص على مجتمعنا الناشئ سوف تعتمد إلى حدٍّ كبير على درجة تبنّينا نحن المصريين لها واعتمادها. فبقدر ما يتمّ تمكين الجميع من المشاركة في عملية التشاور التي تؤثر علينا حتّى نسلك الطريق لنصبح أسياد الموقف في تقرير مصير تطورنا الروحي والمادي فإننا سنتفادي مخاطر وقوع مجتمعنا في شَرَك أيّ نمطٍ من النماذج القائمة التي لا ترى أيّ جدوى من تمكين الناس وإطلاق طاقاتهم.

إنّ التحدي الماثل أمامنا إذًا هو في بدء عمليةٍ من الحوار والتشاور حول المبادئ التي سوف ترشدنا إلى إعادة بناء مجتمعنا وهي مهمة تحتاج إلى جهد ومثابرة. إنّ صياغة مجموعةٍ متجانسةٍ من المبادئ – من بين المفاهيم والتصورات المتباينة – لتنطوي على القوة الخلاّقة لتوحيد شعبنا لن تكون إنجازًا متواضعًا. وعلى كل حال، فإنّ بإمكاننا أن نكون واثقين بأنّ كلّ جهدٍ صادقٍ يُبذل لخدمة هذا الغرض سيُكافأ بسخاءٍ عن طريق إطلاق مقدارٍ جديد من تلك الطاقات البنّاءة النابعة من أنفسنا والتي يعتمد عليها مستقبلنا. وفي حوار وطني عريض القاعدة كهذا – يشترك فيه الناس على كلّ المستويات في القرى والمدن وفي الأحياء والبيت ليشمل جذور المجتمع ويجتذب كلّ مواطن مهتمّ – سيكون من الضرورة الحيوية القصوى ألاّ يتحول هذا الحوار سريعًا إلى نقاشٍ عن الجزئيات والمصالح الآنيّة، أو يُختصر هذا الحوار فيتحوّل إلى إبرام الصفقات وإصدار القرارت لتقاسم السُّلطة من قبل نخبةٍ جديدةٍ تدّعي بأنّها الحكم الفاصل في تقرير مصيرنا ومستقبلنا.

إنّ المشاركة المستمرة لجماهير الشعب – وعلى نطاقٍ واسعٍ – في عملية التشاور هذه ستُقنع، إلى حدٍّ بعيد، المواطنين بأنّ صنّاع السياسة مخلصون في خلق مجتمعٍ عادل. ونظرًا لأن الفرصة متاحةٌ للمشاركة في هذه العملية، فإنّه سيتأكد لنا في صحوة وعينا الجديد بأننا نملك زمام مصيرنا وأننا ندرك معنى القوى الجماعية التي أصبحت مُلكنا فعلاً لتغيير أنفسنا. إخوتكم وأخواتكم البهائيون في مصر

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Burning Baha'i Houses in Egypt - February 22, 2011 - اليوم السابع

Burning two Baha'i houses for the second time in Egypt without any punishments from the Egyptian government to the attackers. The first assault happened in April 2009 without any criminal trials to the attackers, and here they come for the second time in February 22, 2011 to attack Baha'i houses in Shuraniya, Sohag.

Muslims villagers burned two empty Baha'i houses in Shuraniya, Sohag which were burned before in April 2009.

Transition and the examination shows that the fire came on the houses without a loss of life, and that the owners of the houses have lived in Cairo since the first attack on there houses in April 2009 without getting any compensations from the City of Sohag.

Baha'is are minorities in Egypt and they suffering all kind of prejudice and discrimination's because of their belief.

إشعال النار فى منزلين ملك بهائيين فى سوهاج - اليوم السابع

قام عدد من أهالى قرية الشورانية بمحافظة سوهاج بحرق منزلين من منازل البهائيين هناك، والاستيلاء على ممتلكاتهم، وتبين أنهما نفس المنزلين اللذين تم حرقهما من قبل.

بالانتقال والفحص تبين أن الحريق أتى على المنزلين دون حدوث خسائر فى الأرواح، وأن أصحاب المنزلين أقاموا بالقاهرة خوفا من التعدى عليهم، وأخطرت النيابة للتحقيق.

شباب الشورانية يهدمون منزل أحد البهائيين بسوهاج - اليوم السابع - 22 فبراير 2011

مازالت أصداء ثورة شباب قرية الشورانية بمركز المراغة بمحافظة سوهاج تتواصل، حيث قام الشباب عقب إضرام النار فى المنزل بتحطيمه والصعود إلى كافة الطوابق، واستخدام آلات الزراعة فى الهدم، كما قاموا بمنع سيارات الدفاع المدنى بالتوجه إلى مكان الحريق، وكذلك منع سيارات الإسعاف من الوصول إلى المكان.

كان اللواء علاء المناوى مدير أمن سوهاج قد تلقى بلاغا من مركز شرطة المراغة يفيد قيام بعض الأهالى من قرية الشورانية مساء اليوم عقب انتهاء وقفتهم الاحتجاجية، والتى طالبوا فيها بمد فترة عمل العبارة، وتشديد الرقابة على المخابز والمجازر، وبناء وحدة محلية خاصة بهم بثورة ضد البهائيين الفارين من القرية، حيث قام شباب القرية بإضرام النار فى منزل ملك المدعو محمد عبد الرحمن محمد عمار بهائى ومكون من 3 طوابق، ومازالت النيران تشتعل بالمنزل حتى الآن.ومن جانبه أشار بهاء الناظر بهائى إلى أن الشرطة أخلت الحراسة، وتركت المنزل بدون حراسة، حيث قام بعض الشباب بسرقة محتويات المنزل بالكامل دون تدخل من الأمن حتى الآن.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 Report on International Religious Freedom - Egypt

November 17, 2010

Law 263 of 1960, still in force, bans Baha'i institutions and community activities and strips Baha'is of legal recognition. During the Nasser era, the government confiscated all Baha'i community properties, including Baha'i centers, libraries, land for the House of Worship, cemeteries, and more.

The government requires all citizens to be categorized as Muslims, Christians, or Jews on national identity cards. Baha'is have been compelled either to misrepresent themselves or to live without valid identity documents.

In 2008 the Cairo Administrative Court ruled in three cases brought by Baha'is that the government must issue official identification documents containing a dash or other mark in the religion field.

The ruling stated that anyone who adopts the Baha'i Faith is an apostate and that the religion cannot be recorded in any civil status or other official document, because that would conflict with public order.

According to Baha'i community members, throughout the first half of 2010 the government implemented the order and reportedly issued more than 180 birth certificates and 50 to 60 national identification cards to Baha'is, all with dashes in the religious identification field. The government, because it does not recognize Baha'i marriage, and there is no civil mechanism for marriage, refused to issue identification documents to married Baha'is, unless they would agree to specify their marital status as "unmarried." According to the government, it was attempting to find a mechanism to issue identification documents to married Baha'is that would correctly identify marital status.

While the government complied with court rulings by issuing identity documents with a “dash” for religion to unmarried Baha’i, it continued to refuse to issue marriage certificates. This made it impossible for married members of the Baha'i community to obtain identity documents recognizing their marital status. The government cited its nonrecognition of the Baha'i Faith and the country's lack of a civil marriage mechanism as reasons for the denial.

During the reporting period, the government did not investigate or prosecute the perpetrators of a March 2009 attack on the homes of seven Baha'i families in the village of al-Shuraniya in Sohag Governorate. Muslim villagers, some of them related to the Baha'i villagers, attacked Baha'i houses with bricks and rocks until police dispersed them. On March 31, the attacks escalated when attackers returned and set fire to the homes, forcing the Baha'is to flee.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Annual Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

May 2010

(Covering April 1, 2009 - March 31, 2010)

A newly released report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom found a serious problems of discrimination, intolerance, and other human rights violations against members of religious minorities, as well as disfavored Muslims, remain widespread in Egypt. The reporting period marked s significant upsurge in violence targeting Coptic Orthodox Christians.

The report indicated that the Egyptian government has not taken sufficient steps to halt the repression of and discrimination against Christians and other religious believers, or, in many cases, to punish those responsible for violence or other severe violations of religious freedom. This increase in violence, and the failure to prosecute those responsible, fosters a growing climate of impunity. Implementation of previous court rulings - related to granting official identity documents to Baha'is and changing religious affiliation on identity documents for Christian converts - has been limited and subject to onerous delays.

Due to persistent and serious concerns, Egypt remains on USCIRF's Watch List in 2010. Egypt has been on the Watch List since 2002. USCIRF traveled to Egypt in January 2010 to assess religious freedom conditions in the country. The visit took place just weeks after six Coptic Christians and one Muslim were killed outside a church on Coptic Christmas eve in the town of Naga Hammadi. This incident served as a wake-up call to growing sectarian tensions and other religious freedom issues. Other needed reforms also should be immediately implemented, such as removing religion from official identity documents and passing a unified law for the construction and repair of places of worship.

In addition, All Baha'i institutions and community activities have been banned since 1960 by a presidential decree. As a result, Baha'is, who number approximately 2,000 in Egypt, are unable to meet or engage in group religious activities. Over the years, Baha'is have been arrested and imprisoned because of their religious beliefs, often on charges of insulting Islam.

Almost all Baha'i community members are known to the state security services, and many are regularly subject to surveillance and other forms of harassment. Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Center has issued fatwas in recent years urging the continued ban on the Baha'i community and condemning Baha'is as apostates.

Intolerance of Baha'is has increased in both the independent and government-controlled media in recent years. In March 2009, several Baha'i homes in a village in the Sohag province were vandalized by Muslim villagers. Egyptian human rights groups immediately condemned the violence and contended that a contributing factors to the attacks was incitement by a media commentator who, during a television program, labeled an individual member of the Baha'i faith an apostate and called for her to be killed. According to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, several alleged perpetrators were arrested; however, it is unclear if they were released. More than one year after the incident, there has been no investigation or prosecution related to the attacks.

In March 2009, the Supreme Administrative Court rejected a final legal challenge to a 2008 lower court ruling that required the Egyptian government to issue national identification documents to three Baha'i plaintiffs containing a dash or other mark in the space designated for religious affiliation. Until this ruling, identification documents permitted registration in only one of the three officially approved faiths - Islam, Christianity, or Judaism - thereby effectively preventing Baha'is from gaining the official recognition necessary to have access to numerous public services, and without which it is illegal to go out in public.

Since the 2008 decision, the government has issued birth certificates to at least 120 Baha'is, documents which it previously refused to issue. In addition, approximately 20-30 single male and female Baha'is have received identity cards. However, no married couples have been able to received identity cards because the Egyptian government does not recognize Baha'i marriages. Over the past few years, some Baha'is lost their jobs and a few young Baha'is were dismissed from universities because they did not have identity cards.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei Stresses the need for recognition the Baha'i Faith as a Religion in Egypt

Dr. Mohamed Elbaradei, The former Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who declared himself a candidate for the Presidency in Egypt. He stresses the need for recognition the Baha'i Faith as a Religion in Egypt from the point of freedom of Religion.

The Egyptian Society are confused for ideas outside their religious leaders teachings and is simultaneously attempt to demolish the structure of the Egyptian society and distract their thoughts.

Article from the Copts United:

At the same time the Egyptian Baha'is still suffering to receive their Government Identification cards and to be treated as first class citizens. The Egyptian Government Policy of writing the religions on the identity documents is not acceptable and should be removed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Baha'i New Year - Naw-Ruz

On March 21 Baha'is celebrate the beginning of a new year. Called Naw-Ruz, which means "new day" in Persian, it is one of nine Baha'i holy days on which Baha'is suspend work and school.

Baha'is follow the Badi ("wonderful") calendar, which consists of 19 months of 19 days each (361 days), with the addition of "Intercalary Days" (four in ordinary and five in leap years) between the 18th and 19th months to adjust the calendar to the solar year.
The months are named after the attributes of God. The Baha’i New Year is astronomically fixed and begins with the March equinox (March 21). The Baha’i Era commenced with the year of the Bab’s declaration (1844 A.D.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hussein Bikar

Hussein Bikar represents rare combination of artist and distinguished critic. Bikar is known not only for his portraits but also as a talented caricaturist. Bikar remained faithful to traditional models of portraiture and throughout a long career had no shortage of sitters happy for the artist to produce his realistic portraits which often, too, included details culled from ancient Egyptian. Bikar was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 2 January 1913.

After graduating from Cairo's legendary Faculty of Fine Arts in 1933, he became a teaching assistant the same year, then a Director of the Photography department. Bikar subsequently became a Professor in the Painting Department, and ultimately IT’S Chair.

In 1945 He began his career in journalism when he became one of the founding fathers of the prestigious Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper, doing drawings often accompanied by his own vernacular poems. Bikar became a towering figure on the Egyptian arts scene in late 1950.

In January, 1952 he was instrumental in starting a weekly children's magazine Al-Sindbad, for which he was--along with "Sarookhan" and "Rakha"--its main cartoonist and illustrator.

In 1959, Bikar abandoned a teaching career to work in journalism as an illustrator and cartoonist: known for his sensuous, elongated lines, Bikar's work broke new ground in media art and was both accessible and sophisticated. He was also an outstanding musician, and during his career as an artist and critic at Al-Akhbar, he often sought out and encouraged young talents.

Bikar was also one of the founders of Cairo's Helwan Wax Museum. Over the years, Mr. Bikar had taught thousands of students at the Faculty of Fine Arts and became Egypt's most celebrated painter. His talent and artistic excellence became recognized worldwide.

The Helwan Wax Museum is a small public museum located in the Cairo, Egypt suburb of Helwan, close to the Ain Helwan Metro station. It contains exhibits of wax sculptures demonstrating important figures from Egyptian history and idealized traditional Egyptian culture.

Bikar, has been very much in the lime light as most publications in Egypt have been dedicating special sections to pay tribute to a long and distinguished career.

Bikar was honored with several awards including, the State Merit award in 1978, the Merit Medal award in 1980, Finally in June 2000 the Presidential Award from the Egyptian President Mr. Mubarak. He donated the full LE 100,000 of his prize to the Children's Cancer Hospital in Cairo.

Bikar became attracted to the Baha'i Faith in the 1930s and accepted it shortly after as his religion. He became a staunch supporter of its Institutions, and upholder of its principles. He also served on its key administrative functions. In the 1980s He was repeatedly interrogated and arrested simply because he was a Baha'i. Despite his numerous contributions to Egyptian Society, he died without having access to an Egyptian identity card because of his beliefs in the Baha’i Faith.

Bikar is widely regarded as a classic of modern Egyptian painting. Selections from his work can be seen at the Egyptian Modern Art Museum in Gezira, Cairo and the local museum of El-Gouna
El Gouna is a tourist resort, developed and owned by Orascom Hotels and Development, dating from about 1990, It is located on the Red Sea in Egypt, 22 km north of Hurghada International Airport.

"I opened a window for hope to seep onto a dark soil a dough mixed with blood and a martyr The setting sun glimpsed through a crack in the prison wall through the wire and the iron it crept and there my vision started All at once I looked up a flight of pigeons filled the distance As though someone was celebrating a feast unveiling a happiness I praised the ways of God transforming the ancient a new this land, this Egypt awakens too, from old decrepit age, sheds all wrinkles and is again a youthful bride."

Hussein Bikar

موال ربيعي فتحت شباك الأمل على ارض سمرة معجونة بدم الشهيد ولمحت شمس الأصيل مسجونة جوه قفص من سلك وحديد وفجأة بصيت لفوق لقيت أسراب الحمام مليا القريب والبعيد وفرحانة بالوشوش اللي بتبنيها وكأنه مهرجان أو عيد قلت سبحانك يارب قادر تبدل العتيق بالجديد وتصبح مصر عروسه زمانها شباب من غيرتجاعيد

حسين بيكار

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Bahá'í Faith in Egypt

In 1925, Egypt became the first Islamic state to legally recognize the Bahá'í Faith as an independent religion apart from Islam. Despite a historically active Egyptian Bahá'í community during the early twentieth century, Bahá'í institutions and community activities are currently banned by Law 263. This law came into being in 1960, seven years after the founding of the Arab Republic of Egypt, at the decree of then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser. All Bahá'í community properties, including Bahá'í centers, libraries, and cemeteries, were confiscated by the government. The current Egyptian Bahá'í community, estimated to two thousand, has also had fatwas issued against it by Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Center, which charges Bahá'ís with apostasy.

In January 2001, 18 Bahá'ís, were arrested in the city of Sohag under the pretence of having violated Article 98(F) of the Penal Code ("insulting a heavenly religion") and other possible charges, 10 of whom were held in detention for over 10 months without being formally charged.

The Egyptian government requires that its citizens identify as either Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, leaving others to either misrepresent their faith or forego valid identity documents, passports, birth and death certificates, and marriage licenses.

A May 2004 incident indicated that the Ministry of Interior has instructed officials to confiscate any identity cards belonging to Bahá'ís. The seriousness of such a matter is compounded by the essential nature of the identity card; it is linked to the ability to own property, attend university and have a business.

On 6 April 2006, human rights activists "welcomed a landmark ruling by the Administrative Court recognising the right of Egyptian Bahais to have their religion acknowledged on official documents." However, on 3 May 2006 it was reported that the Egyptian government will appeal against a court ruling in favour of the rights of the country’s small Baha’i minority..."

One member of parliament, Gamal Akl of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, said the Baha’is were infidels who should be killed on the grounds that they had changed their religion.

On November 28, 2006 the Supreme Administrative Court held a hearing on the situation of the Bahá'ís. The Bahá'ís were represented by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) who submitted a brief which outlined the legal obligations of the government under the Egyptian constitution and international human rights law to protect the rights of freedom of belief and non-discrimination. The brief also responded to the government's claims that a recognition of the Bahá'ís would contravene Islamic Shari'a which only permitted Muslim coexistence of Christians and Jews and that Bahá'ís should be treated as Apostates from Islam.

Finally, the brief also responded to the government's claim that by allowing the Bahá'í Faith to be listed on official documents that public order would be violated; the brief noted that Bahá'ís had, for decades, been able to list their religious affiliation in their identification documents until the Egyptian Interior Ministry removed their choice in recent years and not accepted to insert the word 'others.'

On December 16, 2006, only after one hearing, the Supreme Administrative Council of Egypt ruled against the Baha'is and stated that the government may not recognize the Bahá'í Faith in official identification numbers.

The ruling leaves Bahá'ís unable to obtain the necessary government documents to have rights in their country; they cannot obtain ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, passports; they also cannot be employed, educated, treated in hospitals or vote among other things.
In January 2008, Egyptian courts have issued two rulings that, while restricted in scope, should ease some bothersome strictures. Bahais may now leave the space for religion on their identity cards blank. Ending four years of court controversies, including rulings that denied Bahaism exists as a religion.

Up till now Baha'is are still unable to obtain proper identification documents despite a legal ruling in their favor in February 2008.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Issuing birth certificates for Two Egyptian Baha'is

The Civil Egyptian government unit in Cairo issued the first two electronic birth certificates with dash in the religion section (-) for two Baha'i children, Emad and Nancy Raouf Hindi Halim.
This follows the decree issued about a month ago by the Interior Minister of Egypt Habib Adli, to amend the Civil Status Law regarding the issuance of identity documents, such as birth certificates and ID cards, for people following religions not officially recognized by the Egypt authority.
Dr. Rauf Hindi Haleem, the father of the two children, has said that the birth certificates for his twins Emad and Nancy took so long now they are sixteen years old.
He said the twins were left for so long with no official documents although they had Egyptian Baha'i parents and Egyptian Baha'i grandparents.

"I will soon start taking the necessary procedures to let them have their national ID cards, as our country's nationality is something we cherish" he added.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

صدور اول شهادتي ميلاد للمصريين البهائيين مدون بها (شرطة) بخانة الديانة

تم استخراج أول شهادتى ميلاد بهائيتين تحملان أمام خانة الديانة (-) ،ويعد البهائيون هذا انتصارا لحرية العقيدة، كما أنه سيفتح الباب أمام باقى البهائيين باستخراج أوراقهم الثبوتية وكتابة ( - ) فى خانة الديانة.

شهادتا الميلاد تحملان اسم كل من عماد رءوف هندى وشقيقته نانسى رءوف هندى. ويقول الدكتور رءوف هندى "والد عماد ونانسى : الآن أستطيع أن أقول إن "عماد ونانسى" أصبحا مواطنين مصريين يملكان شهادة ميلاد مصرية، مؤكدا بأنه وبعد 5 سنوات استطاع البهائيون أن يحصلوا على حق استخراج أوراقهم الثبوتية بكتابة (- ) أمام خانة الديانة، مما يؤكد على نزاهة القضاء المصرى.ويضيف هندى أن الإجراءات استغرقت حوالى شهرين لاستخراج شهادتى الميلاد، نظرا لأنها أول ورقة رسمية تحمل ( - ) إلا أننا نتمنى أن تتم هذه الإجراءات بطريقة أكثر يسرا فى الحالات القادمة.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Baha'i Faith in Egypt - Egyptian Magazine Last Hour 1950

نشرت هذه المقاله سنه 1950 فى جريده اخر ساعه تحت عنوان دين البهائيه يدعو للسلام وفيها ملخص عن التعاليم البهائيه

وتوجد بالمقاله ايضا صوره لمبنى المحفل البهائى فى القاهره
كاتب هذه المقاله هو الاستاذ احمد زين العابدين وفى خاتمه المقاله يقول هذه هى البهائيه دين جديد يدعو الى السلام ويقول البهائيون ان بهاء الله هو رسول الله فى الارض وان هناك علامات على ظهوره فى التوراه والانجيل والقران
لقد بلغ اتباع الدين البهائى خمسه ملايين شخص فى جميع انحاء العالم

This article was published in "Last Hour" an Egyptian magazine dated August 9, 1950 under the name "The Baha'i Faith call for Peace" there is a brief introduction about the Baha'i Faith, Picture of the Baha'i Center in Cairo, and a picture of Abdul Baha.
The writer name is Ahmed Zen Alabdin. he mentioned that "the Baha'i Faith is a new Religion preach for Peace. Bahá’u’lláh is the Founder of the Baha'i Faith. There are signs in all the previous Religions books about the Baha'i Faith. He mentioned also that the are five million Baha’is all over the world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Decree Ends ID Bias against Egyptian Baha’is

The ministerial decree, signed by Mr. Habib al-Adly, the Egyptian interior minister, on March 19, appeared in the Official Gazette on April 14 and entered into force today. He issued the decree three days after a Supreme Administrative Court ruling upheld the right of Egypt’s Baha’i minority to obtain official documents, such as identity cards and birth certificates, without revealing their religious convictions or having to identify themselves incorrectly as Muslim or Christian.
This final court ruling. in a case brought by one of Egyptian Baha'is, ended an arbitrary policy of the Interior Ministry’s Civil Status Department (CSD) that for the past 9 years has denied Baha’i Egyptians necessary identification documents unless they declared themselves to be adherents of one of the three state-recognized religions -- Islam, Christianity, or Judaism.

Identification documents, especially identity cards and birth certificates, are mandatory for all Egyptians and necessary to obtain access to education, employment, family life, registration and immunization of children, as well as most basic daily activities such as opening a bank account, obtaining a driver’s license, receiving pension or inheritance, or engaging in business transactions.

تنفيذاً لحكم الإدارية العليا

وزير الداخلية يصدر قراراً وزارياً بشأن الأوراق الثبوتية للمواطنين من غير أتباع الديانات المعترف بها

أصدر وزير الداخلية حبيب العادلي قراراً وزارياً، نشره ملحق الجريدة الرسمية صباح اليوم، بتعديل اللائحة التنفيذية لقانون الأحوال المدنية على نحو ينظم إصدار الوثائق الثبوتية كشهادات الميلاد وبطاقات الرقم القومي وغيرها لأتباع الديانات التي لا تعترف بها الدولة رسمياً.
وقد صدر القرار، الذي يحمل تاريخ 19 مارس 2009، بعد ثلاثة أيام من صدور حكم المحكمة الإدارية العليا في 16 مارس بتأييد حق المصريين البهائيين في الحصول على أوراق ثبوتية دون إجبارهم على ادعاء اعتناق إحدى الديانات الرسمية الثلاث وهي الإسلام والمسيحية واليهودية.
وينص القرار الوزاري، رقم 520 لسنة 2009 على إضافة الفقرة التالية إلى نهاية المادة رقم 33 من اللائحة التنفيذية لقانون الأحوال المدنية:
ويتم إثبات علامة (ــ) قرين خانة الديانة للمواطنين المصريين الذين سبق قيدهم أو حصولهم أو آبائهم على وثائق ثبوتية غير مثبت بها إحدى الديانات السماوية الثلاثة أو مثبت بها علامة (ــ) أمام خانة الديانة، إو إنفاذاً لأحكام قضائية واجبة النفاذ. ويسري ذلك على كافة النماذج والإصدارات الأخرى المرفقة باللائحة، شريطة أن يقدم طلب بذلك من ذوي الشأن إلى مساعد وزير الداخلية لقطاع مصلحة الأحوال المدنية أو من ينيبه، ويتم إيداعه بالسجل المعد لذلك."
كما ينص القرار على بدء العمل بالتعديل من اليوم التالي لتاريخ نشره.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Muslims Villagers attack homes of Baha'is in Egypt

Burning Baha'i homes in Egypt

Assaults committed against Egyptian Baha'is over the past several days in the southern City of Sohag. In a complaint filed in April 02, 2009 the Egyptian Baha'is called for the investigation to include those responsible for the direct incitement to the assaults and asked that the matter be referred urgently to criminal trial.

The attacks began on Saturday evening, March 28, 2009 in the village of al-Shuraniya, located in the Maragha district of Sohag, when dozens of Muslims village residents gathered outside of the homes of Baha'i citizens in the village and began chanting, "There is no God but God, Baha'is are the enemies of God." Those assembled then began pelting the houses with rocks, breaking windows and attempting to break in the Baha'i Houses.

On March 31, 2009 at approximately 7 pm, the attacks escalated when some Muslims residents of the village threw improvised firebombs and Molotov cocktails at the homes of the five Baha'i families living in the village, leading to the partial destruction of the houses.

The Baha'is said that the attackers broke or disabled the water connections to their homes to prevent them from putting out the fires. The Muslims attackers also broke into the Baha'is houses, vandalizing property inside and stealing some electrical appliances and livestock.

The attacks prompted some of the Baha'i families to flee their homes and hide in the fields until the following morning.

The police arrived during the attacks and dispersed the Muslim attackers; there was no information that any of the attackers had been arrested.

In April 01, 2009 the Egyptian police ordered the remaining Baha'is in the village to leave immediately and did not allow them to return to their homes to collect clothing, medicine, schoolbooks, money, or other necessities. Information gathered indicates that all Baha'is have forced to leave their own houses and move to another City as of the evening of 1 April.

The assaults on the Baha'is in al-Shuraniya began after an episode of the program "al-Haqiqa," aired on TV Channel Dream 2 on March 28, 2009 which discussed the Baha'i New Year celebration . The program featured a Baha'i from al-Shuraniya and Baha'i activist and dentistry professor Dr. Basma Musa. Also participating in the program a Muslim Journalist Gamal Abd al-Rahim that pronouncing all Baha'is as apostates and urges their killing.

Gamal Abd al-Rahim during the program, said referring to Dr. Basma, "This one should be killed." On March 31, only hours before the homes of the Baha'is were torched in al-Shuraniya, al-Gomhouriya an Egyptian Newspaper published an article by Gamal Abd al-Rahim in which he praised the residents of al-Shuraniya for stoning the homes of Baha'is in the village in the preceding days. He considered these crimes to be evidence of al-Shuraniya residents’ "protectiveness of their Islam religion and beliefs."

The Muslim leader, who claimed responsibility for the attack, is named Mohammad Youssry Mohammad. He identifies himself as the secretary of the youth committee of the village's National Party (al- Hezb al-Watany) and a teacher in the Islam religious institute of the village.

Update: Media coverage
El Gazira Channel

El Mohawar Channel, 48 Hours Program: