After the favourable verdict granting Egyptian Baha’is their right to obtain identification papers was issued, we all let out a sigh of relief. We realized that much had yet to be done before Egyptian Baha’is were guaranteed equality; the Baha’i Faith continues to lack official recognition, all Baha’i institutions are currently banned by a decades-old decree, and a large segment of Egyptian society harbours hatred and distrust for Baha’is. Still, the ruling was a step in the right direction, and heralded a new era for Egypt.

Following the landmark ruling, many articles and news reports have appeared in the Egyptian media that aimed to educate the public on the Baha’i Faith, and provide a forum for discussions. Most recently, Dr Basma Moussa appeared on Dream TV, accompanied by Ahmad Al Sayyid (a Baha’i from the southern village of Showranyiah) and Gamal Abd Alrahim (a journalist and vociferous critic of Baha’is).

Bilo – from the “Baha’i Faith in Egypt” blog – reports that a person identifying himself as the secretary of the youth committee of the village’s National Party left a comment at Gamal Abd Alrahim’s blog, lauding an attack that a mob allegedly carried out against the Baha’i residents of their village.

As a consequence to his urging, during a recent television program, a mob attacked and assaulted the Baha’is in the village of Showranyiah in the southern Egyptian province of Sohag on 31 March 2009 at 8 PM. The mob, reportedly, burned their homes and expelled the Baha’i families from the village.

This story was reported in a comment by the leader of that mob on Gamal Abdel Rahim’s blog, which has been dedicated to attacks on Baha’is. This mob 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 religious institute of the village. He describes the village to have a population of 16,751 with a surface area of approximately 1,567 feddans [acres]. It has 17 mosques, 3 churches, 16 elementary schools, 2 preparatory schools and 1 secondary “commerce” school. He also reports that the Baha’is, who were expelled from the village following the burning of their homes, consist of 15 individuals from three families, among them children and nursing babies.

Bilo reminds us that even if the reported attack were true, it would represent an isolated incident, and is in no way a normal occurrence in Egypt. But should clerics, journalists and academics continue to spew out hateful messages, then there is much cause for concern.

If you wish to believe that the Baha’i Faith is deviant, then you are within your rights. If you believe that all Baha’is are destined for Hell, then so be it. But there is no force in this world, whether divine of human, that grants you the right to incite hatred and violence against your fellow citizens.

A question that is often repeated in Muslim societies is why we lag behind, and a quote by an 11th century Muslim scholar provides an adequate answer:

Allah guards the justice loving government, even if it is the government of non-Muslims, and destroys the tyrant government, even if it is the government of Muslims.

We call on the Egyptian government to investigate the allegations, and to hold its perpatrators responsible should they be true.