The Baha’i Faith in Egypt blog reports:

Egypt’s leading daily newspaper Al-Ahram published an article on 8 August 2007, in which it describes plans for the exclusive use of the new computerised national ID number/card and the total abandonment of the older paper ID documents.

Thus far, Baha’is remain prevented by the government from being issued the new ID cards, and are only in possession of the old paper documents. The only option given to them, as instructed by the Ministry of Interior, is that they must lie on the application form regarding their religious affiliation in order to obtain ID documents. They are given only three choices (Muslim Christian or Jew). The application form clearly states that any false statements made by the applicant will be punishable by imprisonment and heavy fines. The ID card system does not allow for any other options, such as leaving the space for religion blank.

Click for larger image.

The newspaper article indicates that it was decided that the new ID card will be “an essential element in all transactions.” This was decided by Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazeef in a meeting on 7 August 2007 with the Minister of Interior as well as some other ministers.

The Prime Minister requested “a deadline” by which the use of the old paper ID card will stop. This will be accomplished very soon when nearly 90% of the population have been issued the new cards.

It was also reported in this article that according to a spokesperson of the Assembly of Ministries that the new ID system will be applied to “all services used by Egyptian citizens within the country.” This includes all government transactions. Currently several ministries have been exclusively accepting the new ID card. These ministries are: Interior, Defense, Health and Justice.

“In preparation for this, it is expected that the Ministry of Interior will announce soon the complete cessation of the use of the old paper ID document.”

Read the rest of the entry.

This news is very alarming, and foreshadows bad news for Baha’is within Egypt, as the author notes:

Soon the Baha’is and other religious minorities (except Muslims, Christians and Jews) will not be able to have any rights in their own society. It implies large-scale job firings and dismissals from universities. Already, Baha’is are unable to obtain health care and children cannot get vaccination in public institutions. In other words, Baha’is and any other religious minorities–if they exist–will suffer “civil death.”

Additionally, Egyptian Baha’i university students have been expelled because they were unable to produce the required military draft postponement document, which requires the new ID card for it to be granted. One student was expelled just before graduation from his university. Another student, after passing his first year examination, was prevented from being promoted to the second year and was suspended from the university until he can produce his military draft document.

Egypt must secure religious freedoms within its society, what the Baha’i minority are forced to put up with is extremely unbearable and it’s a struggle that must be fought for by all Egyptians and not just members of the faith in question. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Baha’i friends.

Please pass on the news and let’s make as many people as possible aware of these human rights abuses. Baha’i human rights deserve to be acknowledged, and we must ensure that it does.