From “Baha’i Faith in Egypt and Iran“:

The case of the Baha’is of Egypt has just undergone an important new development that appears to finally permit the tentative resolution of their struggle in their quest for their civil rights. As can be recalled, on 29 January 2008, Cairo’s Administrative Court had ruled that Baha’is can obtain identification documents with dashes “–” inserted in place of religious identification in the required section of these documents.

This ruling was not appealed by Egypt’s Ministry of Interior or any other responsible agency or authority. It was appealed, however, by an Islamist lawyer, named Abd El-Mageed El-Aanany. He was not a party to the lawsuit, but appeared to act on behalf of extremists. Last July, the Egyptian media announced that the judicial State Council, which is a panel of judges at the highest level of the State charged with acting on such judicial matters and appeals before the Supreme Administrative Court, had rejected the appeal by El-Aanany and upheld the administrative court’s ruling to allow the Baha’is obtain identification documents. In its decision, the Council had affirmed that the only authority that has interest in this case is the Ministry of Interior, not this lawyer or any others for that matter.

The appeal was heard by the Supreme Court, on 27 September 2008, which decided to postpone it until 20 October 2008 for a decision. Meanwhile, in yesterdays edition of Rose El-Youssef newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Egyptian government, an article (attached) announced that “the State Council of the Supreme Administrative Court had produced a judicial memorandum requesting the Supreme Administrative Court to issue a final judicial judgment that affirms the [29 January] ruling of Cairo’s Administrative Court, which allowed placing dashes ‘–’ for the Baha’is of Egypt in the religion section, since neither the Ministry of Interior nor the Attorney-General appealed the decision of the Administrative Court.”

The article goes on to state: “The Judicial Council affirmed in its report that no citizen or any other intruder has the right to interfere with or appeal the lawsuit involving the Baha’is that was before the Administrative Court.” It based its opinion on the fact that those who appealed were not a party to the lawsuit and that only the Ministry of Interior and the Attorney-General had the right to appeal.

This development should be regarded as a very important step towards the normalization of the status of the Baha’is of Egypt. It puts an end to all unjustified and frivolous challenges and appeals brought by extremists who would want to put a stop to any judgment favoring the Baha’is. With the expected enforcement of this ruling, the Baha’is will soon be able to obtain ID cards and birth certificates, and hopefully many other documents, that would allow them a normal and decent life in their homeland. Additionally, in doing so, Egypt’s judiciary is in a position to prove its true independence in its quest for justice.