The Bahhai’s get their verdict in Egypt, finally..

Ok, so we finally have a verdict that is final and impossible to appeal that the Bahhai's can now have ID cards issued without a mention of their religion in the religion category. This will mean that theywill be able to lead a more normal and humane lifestyle, as opposed to the daily humiliation they would recieve in order to get any paperwork done with the egyptian government- from getting birth certificates, to applying to school and colleges to getting ID's passports, and death certificates. They were denied before in all of these categories, and now the egyptian legal system fucked up and did something right for a change. May they fuck up like that every day.

One has to wonder what the other ramification of this lawsuit might be, though. Will people start demanding to get their religious status removed as well, even if they are not Bahhai? Would that be possible? Is that a step in the direction of abolishing the religion category from the egyptian ID forever? One hopes, but that's still too far away. Too many people are clinging to it for reasons that simply do not make sense to me. So, if youa re one of those people, and you are against removing it, please ask yourself, what good, exactly, does it do?And if you have an answer, let me know. I am intrigued!

Comments

  1. “Will people start demanding to get their religious status removed as well”

    Yes, this line has to be removed and law must forbid asking these types of questions.

  2. A few Jehovas Witnesses would demand that their religion be stated specifically, to ensure that they wouldn’t recieve any unwanted blood-transfusions… With this in mind I think it should be voluntary information! :D

  3. But … if they’re the only group allowed to not have their religion on their ID cards, then clearly, anyone who doesn’t have any religion stated on their ID card is … wait for it … Baha’i. Which just means that the discrimination will not stop, but rather that they won’t be able to complain about it any more. I’m not entirely sure I’d consider that to be progress on the Baha’i issue …

  4. Aristotle's Toes says:

    Your religion is no one’s business but your own. More people have to get it removed on those grounds alone.

  5. Its about fucking time although I’m disappointed that they can’t list their religion like the other “approved” religions. The whole religion in the national identitiy is so archaic specially considering that this discussion is being had in the 21st century or is it still the 15th in the middle east?

  6. Kudos for the judges. I think a class action to remove the religion part of the ID is needed. Also, could someone please explain to the ministry of interior who started this whole ordeal that Egyptians no longer fall under one of the three heavenly religions only and some do not even believe in any and so wouldnt want to be identified as following one or the other.

  7. “Our society is based on religion and it has functioned like that for thousands of years”

    During which period the Egyptians have had at least three totally different official religions. Maybe four.

  8. “By trying to avoid facing reality, and just calling Baha’i s Muslims or Christians, our judges ‘thinking they were doing it for the sake of religion’ made people sin by marrying people they shouldn’t have in the first place…. ”

    You’re telling me that some small print on your ID-cards are the only way to avoid accidental, inter-religious marriage? How the heck would you get as far as marriage without knowing each others religious affiliation?! Whatever happened to just asking? You know… talking to one another? :D

    Hey, a few more inter-religious marriages might even be good for you – get a little bit of extra perspective on life! ;)

  9. @ Sherif: Bahais were allowed to state so in their IDs for sometime and so confusion was avoided and till now the ministry of interior fails to explain why it suddenly stopped that practise?
    I see your point about the majority in the society being religious. Egyptians lived for hundreds of years w/o ID cards which was introduced I believe sometime during the Turkish ruling period and with it came the religion line. With the country switching to electronic ids there is a way to have ones religion on gov’s file for marital, inheritance etc but there is certainly no need to have it written on the ID itself. Also, the birth certificate will always have the religion in it. My main issue is that this line has been used by some to discriminate against others and that’s why it needs to be taken out. There is an increasing instigation between Muslims and Christians evidenced by tragic events in the past few years and while removing the religion line wont prevent them completely its a much needed step towards restoring our national identity as a country of more than one religions. In addition, it is a matter of fact that Egyptians now also follow other religions or nothing at all and as a Muslim I do not see any basis or rational for forcing someone who is an thiest to be listed as muslim, christian, etc. Also, from a legal point of view I do not see how does that comply with constitutional freedoms. And from an Islamic point of view, citizens following other religions are to be granted the freedom to worship and protected against any form of discremination and I do not see how the IDs as they are at present are helping to insure that.

  10. Sherif, in most countries in the west, you don’t actually use your passport for much other than travelling; other than for renewing your drivers lisence, you don’t have to show your passport to anyone – no problem there…

    By the way, christians have been secularizing for centuries, starting with the renaissance.

  11. And to tell you the truth, Islamic law is probably the most important reason why the Egyptian Church has had so much power among Christians…

    lol.

    Under a secular society, the church’s power will diminish incredibly (and trust me, the majority of Christians don’t want that) because everyone will be treated under the same law, even in issues such as marriage and divorce.

    Why would it matter, if the laws were truly secular? Makes no sense. But it doesn’t matter, because Egypt will never be a secular country.

  12. “Do you even know what will happen in Egypt if the government suddenly decides that the courts have every right to enforce marriage and divorce on all christian couples???”

    Uhh, what??? Why on earth would the courts have any say in respect to enforcing(?!?) marriages? As for divorce, how can similar laws for everyone be a bad thing?

  13. because divorce for Egyptian Christians is basically against their creed…

    Same as it is for Catholics in the US. It’s also against Catholicism for a catholic to marry anyone but another Catholic. However, in a secular society, it isn’t up to government to enforce religious rules. It is them and God whether they choose to follow the tenets of their religion or not.

    and i don’t think what i said is funny at all… if you look at history, Egyptian Christians have, for the most part, had complete control over their internal affairs without any involvement of the government…

    Which would also be true in a secular society. By definition.

    Jewish and Islamic courts are a relatively new addition to western society whereas Egyptian Christians and Jews (when they were in Egypt) have had their own courts for hundreds of years.

    You say that like it is a good thing? And you claim your comments aren’t funny!? :O

    Well, anyway, it is irrelevant. Egypt is never going to be secular, so don’t worry about it.

  14. “because divorce for Egyptian Christians is basically against their creed…”

    And therefore, any egyptian christian wanting a divorce would be out of luck, ’cause, well, they’re not allowed…? I very much doubt that most egyptian christians actively want someone to dictate how they live their life. If they feel like it, they can adhere to their religious tenants as much as they wish; if not, they should be free to choose so. Without these basic rights for all citizens, there won’t be a modern, civilized society…

    “Jewish and Islamic courts are a relatively new addition to western society!”

    There are no such things (at least not outside Britain…!) and hopefully there never will be.

  15. Egyptian Laws are largly secular, the article 2 in the constitution thng about Sharia is nothing in effect but a statement. When a draft law is prepared sometimes Islamic law is considered in addition to modern legislations. This happens more in familial issues, child rights issues, organ donations issues because there are areas were the religion of the individual could have something to say already. The late Dr. Al Sanhori had the dream of reviewing all Egyptian Laws to produce a mixture of modern law (inspired by French Laws mostly) and Sharia. He didnt manage to do that though. Family issues are a different thing since it was seen fit that the religious rules of each of the three religions should be taken into consideration in this matter. While ppl in the West opted for a civil union system in addition to the religious one I doubt the majority in Egypt would want the same. So, I see nothing wrong with having the laws responde to a system preferred by the majority.

    Sherif : I really do not see how its thanks to Islamic Law that the Church has such powers? based on what? Islamic Law is relevant only in relation to insuring their freedom of worship other than that it is up to the Christians to decide whether or not to give such powers to the Church. Cutting back from the church powers could not and should not be done by the government because it will be rightly seen as discrimination. In this regard, I do not know if you have been following the arguments between secular chrisitan orthodox and the church about brining some changes into the rules and making the process of electing the Egyptian pope more democratic.

    The divorce for Egyptian christian orthodox is a painful issue but it is an issue between them and their church and it is not up to the government or the courts to change it. Having said that, it does lead sometimes to bigger problems because some desperate couples convert to Islam get divorced and then try to reconvert and get refused to change their religion again or refused to get a license to remarry from the church. As rightly stated by the court which recently allowed a number of christians to reconvert to christianity from Islam, converting for the sake of gaining a personal gain is an unacceptable exploitation of the religion and something needs to be done to prevent that. So, even though the court allowed them to reconvert it did recognise the ill use of a religion and the problems such incidents could cause in the society as a whole. Also, while a famouse actress who managed to get her divorce by converting to another christian church was given the license to remarry after recovering to the orthodox church her ex-husband who remained orthodox was denied the same and now waiting for the result of the court ruling on the matter.
    Adam B in some familial matters the religion of the couples could comes into play in courts around the World and I do not see why would that be a problem if the parties see it fit.

  16. “So, I see nothing wrong with having the laws responde to a system preferred by the majority.”

    Only problem is that religion excerts an immense social preassure. Even though you may not agree with a religious rule, you comply because the consequences of opposing it are too extreme. If given the choice, would egyptian women really wish to have fewer rights than their male counterparts…? A secular set of laws for everyone would guarantee that everyone had equal rights, at least in theory – how they live their lives and how much they let social preassure dictate their actions is still up to themselves…

    “The divorce for Egyptian christian orthodox is a painful issue but it is an issue between them and their church and it is not up to the government or the courts to change it.”

    As stated above, I disagree – there is no guarantee that coptic law is not discriminatory, and no modern country should accept discriminatory laws that differentiate between it’s citizens within it’s borders… There should always be a secular choice, to avoid any injustice.

    “As rightly stated by the court which recently allowed a number of christians to reconvert to christianity from Islam”

    This, however, is an inter-religious issue, and should NOT be a matter for the courts to decide…!

    “in some familial matters the religion of the couples could comes into play in courts around the World and I do not see why would that be a problem if the parties see it fit.”

    I cannot anticipate every possible legal angle that might have religious issues, but as a general rule, the law should take no special consideration for the religion of an individual. Likewise, religious entities should certainly not be allowed to pass judgement and deal out punishment (other than that directly associated with the belief, ie. excommunication or the like). IMHO of course…! ;)

  17. Having said that, it does lead sometimes to bigger problems because some desperate couples convert to Islam get divorced and then try to reconvert…

    That makes no sense. Why would a Christian who is in a denomination that forbids divorce convert to ISLAM and then try to convert back? That’s silly. It’s the easiest thing in the world for a Christian to convert to another Christian denomination. Christians do it literally all the time.

  18. Anon, can you provide some documentation of the aforementioned foolishness? I’m just curious whether Egypt has the world’s stupidest Christians, or if there is something else going on?

  19. Adam B:
    As a Muslim woman I really do not see how I am getting fewer rights than a Muslim man? are you referring to the religion itself or the twisted ideas and practises of some?
    The Egyptian Orthodox church sees divorce as something that contradicts the religion itself. A country with a majority of Muslims can not direct the Church to let go of its position or enact a law that would make it possible for Christian Orthodox to get divorced despite Church objections simply because this will be seen as discrimination agains the minority.

    “This, however, is an inter-religious issue, and should NOT be a matter for the courts to decide…!”

    The courts got involved indirectly, when they plaintiffs sued the ministry of interior affairs for refusing to give them ID cards with their new (yet old) religion. The ministry revealed how they used conversion to Islam for personal gain. The court ordered the ID’s changed but called the plaintiffs out for disrespecting both religions in such a way. I do not see how the court erred here and also one needs to acknowledge the fact that for a good percentage of the citizens coverting from one religion to the other is still generally unacceptable and that includes muslims and chrisitians and has led to violent clashes between Muslims and Christians in few incidents i.e. could lead to socital unrest. I do not agree with that but I am just clarifying how things really are in the society.
    “…the law should take no special consideration for the religion of an individual”
    I would disagree here. Marriage is a contract in the end and if the parties referred to a particular law to take place then it would serve justice more if the courts take their wishes at the time of concluding the contract into consideration. There are always issues which the law sees as only civil and so only the relevant law will apply there but then there are some issues where it is allowed that family rules in the religion could play a role. In a country like Egypt were marriage is a religious contract as well as civil it makes a lot of legal senese that relevant rules of marital and family issue in the couples religion are taken into consideration. I even have a lawyer friend from Greece who managed to get his greek client a much better aligmony by presenting the court with aligmony principles in Islamic law since her husband is Muslim and the marriage took place in a Muslim country. The court was a Greek court.
    Craig: I read about the case I mentioned above in the newspapers including what the court said. I do not have the court ruling yet. Family matters isnt my area of spcialization but I will let you know if I managed to get a copy of the ruling and have a full understanding of the facts and the reasoning of the court.
    According to the Egyptian Legal system if a couple follows the same religion then their relevant family rules will apply but if one of them belongs to another religion or creed then principles of Islamic family law applies. Some of the women who could not get divorced by the church converted to another chrisitian church and so, made use of the application of Islamic rules and used the “Khola’” system to get divorced. Others made use of a more extensive list of reasons to grant divorce for harm/suffering. I am not sure why some of the plaintiffs converted to Islam instead of another chrisitan church could it be that its not always easy to have another church accept you? I really have no idea but since religion exploitation was an issue in the case, the case report should have more details on that point.

  20. According to the Egyptian Legal system if a couple follows the same religion then their relevant family rules will apply but if one of them belongs to another religion or creed then principles of Islamic family law applies. Some of the women who could not get divorced by the church converted to another chrisitian church and so, made use of the application of Islamic rules and used the “Khola’” system to get divorced.

    Are you serious? So Christians other than Copts are subject to Islamic laws? But Christians who are Copts are subject to Coptic (not Christian) laws?

    And you are citing this as something that is preferable to secular laws? :o

  21. I am not sure why some of the plaintiffs converted to Islam instead of another chrisitan church could it be that its not always easy to have another church accept you?

    That isn’t the case.

    I really have no idea but since religion exploitation was an issue in the case, the case report should have more details on that point.

    It isn’t religious exploitation to leave a denomination that enforces a version of Christianity you find to be incorrect. Since Jesus himself said that divorce was undesirable, but acceptable under some circumstances, then it’s fairly easy for people to claim any Church that prohibits divorce is going against the teachings of Christ. Furthermore, Protestantism was founded by ex-Catholics. The Anglican Church is active in Egypt. I’m not seeing any theological reason why a Christian should abandon their religion to convert to a completely different one, rather than converting to a Christian denomination that is more in line with their own beliefs.

  22. Craig
    Of course not. christians other than orthodox i.e. Protestants and Catholics have their respective family rules apply as well. The same goes for Egyptian Jews or what is left of them (we used to have also 2 Jewish denominations each with their own sets of rules). It is not common at all that chrisitans from different denominations marry from one another, I highly doubt its accepted by the Orthodox Church (dnt know the position of other churches). The very few Catholics I know married also Catholics and the Orthodox I know married only Orthodox.
    The case I mentioned before applies when the couples belong to 2 different religions or denominations only.
    ur 2nd post:
    “that isnt the case” is that your opinion or based on facts or what? and do you mean in your country or Egypt? I m not getting it

    In all cases, may be if there is an Egyptian Christian reader he/she could give more details on these points. My comment related more to the legal aspects, certainly not the religion or whether the position of any denomination regarding divorce is correct.

    I disagree on your last point. It is religious exploitation when u leave your religion that forbids divorce and convert to one that does to get the divorce and then convert back. In fact it is disrespectful of both religions. In addition, it doesnt solve the problem if down the road that person wanted to get remarried the same problem will rise again bec in the eyes of the church he/she isnt divorced. Not to mention how will that affect the other spouse who kept the religion will he/she be allowed to remarry too by the Church?

    Well, the Egyptian Orthodox Church doesnt seem to think that divorced is allowed except in a handful of cases. I am not chrisitan and I certainly do not think its my position to say whether or not their position fits within the Christian faith. We have very few protestants in Egypt compared to orthodox and I do know they have some different views on major issues, I know some through my uncles wife who is a European protestant (non-practsing though).

    I do not know why those plaintiffs decided to convert to Islam instead of another Christian denomination but thats what they did.

    I hope I made my comments clear because I have the feeling you are confused about some of the points I made earlier.

  23. The very few Catholics I know married also Catholics and the Orthodox I know married only Orthodox.

    I don’t know about Orthodox but Catholics are prohibited by the rules of Catholicism from marrying anything but another Catholic. That was just an FYI, as I’m not sure how it is relevant to the discussion :)

    The case I mentioned before applies when the couples belong to 2 different religions or denominations only.

    Being from a different denomination isn’t at all similar to being from a wholly different religion. This is the part that confuses me… you talk as if Egyptian Christians convert to Islam in preference to converting to another denomination of Christianity, just to avoid a specific Churches family laws. That sounds like madness, to me.

    In all cases, may be if there is an Egyptian Christian reader he/she could give more details on these points. My comment related more to the legal aspects, certainly not the religion or whether the position of any denomination regarding divorce is correct.

    Right. I was pointing out the obvious – some Christian Churches do allow divorce, including virtually all Protestant denominations. Since there is an Anglican community in Egypt, I am wondering why any Egyptian Christian who sought divorce would convert to Islam just to leave their spouse.

    I disagree on your last point. It is religious exploitation when u leave your religion that forbids divorce and convert to one that does to get the divorce and then convert back.

    Was that my last point? I challenged you to document that it had ever happened. So far, you have not. *shrug*

    In fact it is disrespectful of both religions.

    You’re right, it would be. And so would making up stories that aren’t true. I still want to see some evidence of Egyptian Christians who convert to Islam to get divorced, and then convert back. I mean no offense, but it sounds absolutely unbelievable to me.

    In addition, it doesnt solve the problem if down the road that person wanted to get remarried the same problem will rise again bec in the eyes of the church he/she isnt divorced. Not to mention how will that affect the other spouse who kept the religion will he/she be allowed to remarry too by the Church?

    I think any Christian who converted to Islam and then tried to convert back, in Egypt, would have much more serious problems than whether or not the Church would allow them to remarry.

    Well, the Egyptian Orthodox Church doesnt seem to think that divorced is allowed except in a handful of cases. I am not chrisitan and I certainly do not think its my position to say whether or not their position fits within the Christian faith.

    Catholicism’s enforcement of doctrine that wasn’t based on scripture is what led to the existence of Protestants in the first place. I suggest any Coptic or Orthodox Christians who have similar issues as many Catholics in Europe did 600 years ago should look into becoming Protestant.

    I hope I made my comments clear because I have the feeling you are confused about some of the points I made earlier.

    I think I understand your words, what i don’t understand is the underlying premise that Christians might convert to Islam just to get divorced. So far you haven’t shown me it has ever happened, nor have you explained why it would ever happen.

  24. “It is religious exploitation when u leave your religion that forbids divorce and convert to one that does to get the divorce and then convert back. In fact it is disrespectful of both religions.”

    It just shows what a great social factor religion is, and how peoples’ religion can force people to express a different opinion than their own – if they REALLY thought a divorce was so bad/evil, they wouldn’t even contemplate it in the first place…

    It also shows how big a part of religion is just keeping up appearances, be it Islam, Christianity or any other religion, and shows that not only is religion silly superstition; it’s also the world’s greatest example of hypocracy in practice!

  25. Anon:

    “As a Muslim woman I really do not see how I am getting fewer rights than a Muslim man?”

    You don’t? Tell me first, do you live in Egypt, some other ME country or a western country? This might make a difference…! ;)

    Even so, it all depends on how liberal your family actually is, and how they feel about bending the words of the quran:

    Sura (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females”

    Sura (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

    Sura (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]”

    Sura (24:31) – Women are to lower their gaze around men, so they do not look them in the eye.

    You and your family might not subscribe to these views (good for you!), but they’re in the quran, and Islam (being a religion of law) therefore cannot be said to treat the two sexes equally. In most muslim countries, this practice is taken litterally, to some degree or other.

    “A country with a majority of Muslims can not direct the Church to let go of its position or enact a law that would make it possible for Christian Orthodox to get divorced despite Church objections simply because this will be seen as discrimination agains the minority.”

    Discrimination against the church rather than the minority… In any case, my argument really is that everyone, whether they’re muslim, christian or whatever, should be allowed to have a legal divorce, regardless of faith – if not through their “church”, then through a secular court.

    “The ministry revealed how they used conversion to Islam for personal gain. The court ordered the ID’s changed but called the plaintiffs out for disrespecting both religions in such a way.”

    This should be no business of the courts – it’s not for them to say whether a conversion/reconversion is “proper” or not; that is up to the respective religions to decide.

  26. Craig: As I made it clear I read that as a report on the case. Im not your personal researcher you can do your own research to find out why they did so? I made it clear that I do not know why they converted to Islam and not another denomination. I am not implying any thing I was simply commenting on what has been reported as facts of the case. You can read my comments any way you want or even better twist them the way you wish I think my words are very clear I also think you and I would not know more than the court who had all the parties argue their case and the court.
    As for Egyptians converting to Protestant well, its up to them but the fact remains the majority of Egyptian Christians are Orthodox.

  27. Craig: As I made it clear I read that as a report on the case.

    OK, so you want to make claims that seem unbelievable, that you can’t or won’t back up?

    Im not your personal researcher you can do your own research to find out why they did so?

    Do my own research? Into a claim *you* made?

    I made it clear that I do not know why they converted to Islam and not another denomination.

    You haven’t made anything clear. You haven’t even demonstrated that the incident even happened, at all.

    I am not implying any thing I was simply commenting on what has been reported as facts of the case.

    It seems like a pretty demeaning story to tell about Christians, considering you can’t prove it is anything more than gossip. *shrug*

    You can read my comments any way you want or even better twist them the way you wish I think my words are very clear I also think you and I would not know more than the court who had all the parties argue their case and the court.

    This amounts to a whole lot of nothing. You don’t even offer me any news stories. You offer nothing, except your word. And you are totally anonymous.

    As for Egyptians converting to Protestant well, its up to them but the fact remains the majority of Egyptian Christians are Orthodox.

    I wasn’t directing that at you, obviously, I was directing it at any Egyptian Christians who find themselves in the bizarre condition you described. However, I am no longer willing to accept the idea that any such Egyptians exist, so it is irrelevant. I’m very sorry I ever entered into this discussion. it seems I’ve been the victim of an internet hoax. Do you enjoy this sort of thing?