Egypt religious freedom cases continued to 22 January

25 December 2007

CAIRO — Court hearings on two lawsuits filed by Baha'is over the government's policy on religious affiliation and national identity papers have been continued until 22 January 2008.

The two cases, the first by the father of twin children who is seeking to obtain proper birth certificates for them and the second by a college student who needs a national identity card to re-enroll in university, had been set for "final judgment" by the Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo today.

But the hearings were unexpectedly postponed. The court indicated it is still deliberating on the cases.

The cases both arise from the fact that the Egyptian government requires all identification papers to list religious affiliation but then restricts the choice to the three officially recognized religions – Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Baha'is are thus unable to obtain identification papers because they refuse to lie about their religious affiliation.

Without national identity cards -- or, as in the case of the twin children, birth certificates – Baha'is and others caught in the law's contradictory requirements are deprived of a wide range of citizenship rights, such as access to employment, education, and medical and financial services.

(Update: On 22 January 2008, it was announced that the cases had been continued until 29 January 2008.)