Saturday, January 14, 2006

Baha'is Face Pressure in Egypt

Baha'i Blog has information about the most recent troubles facing the long suffering Baha'is in Eqypt and advocacy on their behalf in both the United States and the UK.

January 12, 2006

Back on November 16, Kit Bigelow, the director of external affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, addressed the Congressional Human Rights Caucus of the
House of Representatives in the US. She was there to talk about the situation of the Baha’is in Egpyt.

The most urgent issue that faces the Bahá’ís in Egypt is the Government’s decision to require all of its citizens to obtain mandatory identification cards. At present, Bahá’ís are not legally permitted to obtain these cards.

The cards must be presented for any type of government service, such as medical care in a public hospital or processing for a property title or deed. They are required to obtain employment, education or banking services. They are needed to pass through police checkpoints, and individuals without cards are deprived of their freedom of movement.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Related to this and to previous posts about the Baha'i who recently died after 10 years in prison for refusing to recant his faith in Iran, is an October statement by the Baha'i International Community regarding freedom of belief. Below is the first paragraph of this important statement:

Over fifty years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights boldly proclaimed the inherent dignity and the equal rights of all members of the human family. Guided by the vision of equality for all, the Declaration enshrined the fundamental right of every human being to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Despite the international community's unanimous1 adoption of this Declaration and its codification in subsequent instruments of international law,2 the world bears witness to persistent intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief, the proliferation of violence in the name of religion, the manipulation of religion in the interest of political ideology, and increasing tensions between religion and State policies.3 The rising tide of religious extremism has fuelled these developments, threatening security, human development, and efforts towards peace. Widespread violations of this right -- most often targeting women and minorities -- have continued. Given the interdependence of human rights, such violations have compromised, among others, the right to education, employment, peaceful assembly, citizenship, political participation, health, and at times, life itself. Indeed, the promise of freedom of religion or belief for all remains one of the most contested and pressing human rights of our time.

You can read the entire statement here.