Egyptian Bahais– Stateless People In Their Own Country

Lost in discussions concerning religious rights is the issue of Bahais in nations like Iran and Egypt. The Egyptian government presently only recognizes a death certificate issues by Christian, Jewish, or Muslim officials so if someone in the Bahai faith dies, they are still living as far as Egyptian law is concerned. Shady Samir, a Bahai Cairo businessman, continues paying taxes on his dead father’s business because there is no death certificate that ever has been issued. Certificates, Identify cards, of passports are necessary documents in the modern world but they can not be obtained by members of the Bahai faith in Egypt. Egyptian Bahais who refuse to pose as Christian, Muslims or Jews are left in limbo, living as stateless people in the land of their birth. Raqi Labib, a student at Cairo University is denied a passport because he refused to state membership in one of the three recognized religions.

The Bahais remain one of the most persecuted people in the Middle East. Palestinians or Iranians or Egyptians who complain about Israel’s denial of rights for Muslims are remarkably silent when it comes to how their own nations deny rights to Bahais. Many Muslim fundamentalists regard Bahais as apostates even though Bahais do not consider themselves members of the Muslim religion. In Egypt, a common practice is for Bahai parents to send their children to private schools because they lack legal documents allowing them to be in public schools. Perhaps, Muslim leaders can address the rights of Bahais as they argue for Palestinian rights.