Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, September 21, 2007

In Egypt, debate over religious affiliation on ID cards continues

Identity cards in Egypt currently feature a section which indicates religious affiliation; citizens can choose either Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Wataninet.com reported last week that the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) suggested that the religion box should be deleted from the visible portion of the card and that the information should only be seen while accessing the card’s magnetic strip. Only specialized staff should be able to access this information.

Fouad Riyad, NCHR member and professor of international law, said that “people like Bahai’s were deprived of having birth certificates or IDs unless they agreed to be cited as belonging to one of the three heavenly religions since the State did not recognize any other religion”.

According to the article, Hossam Baghat, the director of the NGO Egyptian initiative for personal rights, highlighted another side of the issue. According to the article, Baghat stated that the ID cards must be discussed within the current political context, “taking into consideration the current rise in sectarian tension”. He went on to say that “many see that rights granted to non-Muslims represent a discount of Muslim rights, with the government ‘spoiling’ non-Muslims in response to international pressure”. He suggested the religion box should be optional.

To read the full story, click here

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