Thursday, April 16, 2009

Progress: Egypt no longer forces Bahai to write "Muslim" in their ID cards

Congratulations where due.

EGYPT: A breakthrough for Bahais
This week, human-rights groups hailed a government directive acknowledging the right of the Bahai religious community to receive identification documents -- without having to choose another religion on the application -- as “a positive step that came very late.”

This decision "puts an end to the official policy that forced Egyptian Bahais to claim being either Muslim or Christian,” said a statement issued by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the human-rights group that spearheaded the years-long legal battle between Bahais and the government.

The interior ministry handed down its new directive last month following a court verdict that granted those of the Bahai faith the right to obtain identification cards and birth certificates without having to choose a religion. The court ruled that they could leave the religious-affiliation spot empty. The ruling was not subject to any further appeal.

The new directive became effective this week, according to the human-rights group's statement.

Bahais are expected to rush to government offices to apply for their identification documents under the new regulations.

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