Bilo, the author of the blog Baha’i Faith in Egypt, posted the following news from the Canadian Baha’i News Service—which I hadn’t even noticed until now. I guess I was too busy posting other stories that it never grabbed my attention. Thankfully, that’s not the case for everyone. Briefly put, the case of the Egyptian Supreme Court’s ruling against the right of Baha’is to obtain valid identification cards has caught the attention of the Canadian media. For example, Gerald Filson, the Canadian Baha’i community’s Director of External Affairs, was featured in an interview on Radio-Canada International, giving a summary of the plight of Egypt’s Baha’is. See below for more details.
Egyptian court ruling against Bahá’ís attracts Canadian media attention
TORONTO, ON, 24 January 2007 (CBNS) — The outcry in the Middle East over an Egyptian court ruling against a Bahá’í couple has drawn the attention of several media outlets in Canada, including two Arab-language newspapers.
In a decision delivered this past December, the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court upheld a government policy that prohibits citizens from identifying themselves as members of any religion other than the three officially recognized ones (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) on government-issued identity cards. The policy makes it impossible for Bahá’ís and other religious minorities in Egypt to obtain identity cards without falsifying their religion. The identity cards are required for access to most essential services, including education, financial services, and medical care.
Two Canadian Arab-language newspapers included coverage of the case in its pages. The Montreal-based weeklies El-Masri and El Ressala printed articles highlighting the denial of citizenship rights to the Bahá’ís in their 19 and 21 December 2006 editions, respectively. Another Montreal-based newspaper, the Persian-language Payvand, ran its own article about the case.
English-language media outlets have taken an interest in the story as well. Shortly after the verdict was delivered, CBC Radio Canada International interviewed Gerald Filson, Director of External Affairs for the Bahá’í Community of Canada, about what the decision means for the Bahá’ís in Egypt and about the deteriorating state of human rights in the region.
“Persecution of the Bahá’ís in Iran continues, unfortunately,” says Filson. “And now the Bahá’í community in Egypt, whose rights have also been suppressed for many years, is facing even more severe problems.”
Listen to the interview on CBC radio. (Select “Listen to the second part of the program,” and then cue the audio feed to 27:40.)