Egypt: Information on Bahais since 1980 and whether they have faced any problems
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||1 November 1996|
|Citation / Document Symbol||EGY25258.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Egypt: Information on Bahais since 1980 and whether they have faced any problems, 1 November 1996, EGY25258.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad23b.html [accessed 20 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
A representative of the Bahai Spiritual Assembly in Toronto provided the following information during a telephone interview on 31 October 1996.
The Bahai faith has been banned in Egypt since 1960. Although currently Bahais are not harassed by the Egyptian government, the fundamentalists cause "things" happen at the street level, and "they [also] harass a lot of other people."
Because Bahais are a banned religious group, Bahai activities are restricted and the Bahai community, which does not have official status, cannot have offices, places of worship or a clergy. However, small religious gatherings of four to five people can take place without breaking any law.
Bahais cannot legally marry other Bahais or non-Bahais if they declare themselves to be Bahais. Since Bahai marriages are not recognized, Bahais face difficulties as anything associated with their marriages, such as inheritance or child custody, is not recognized by the law.
The representative has no information on government-sanctioned discrimination against Bahais in employment or education.
The following sources provide information on the status of Bahais in the 1980s.
The attached 22 October 1987 New York Times article refers to the 1960 edict that bans Bahai activities in Egypt. The attached 9 October 1987 AP report, and 1 August 1987, 22 October 1987 and 27 May 1988 New York Times articles refer to the alleged ill-treatment of Bahais in Egypt. The 1985 and 1986 editions of Country Reports on Human Rights Practices provide information on the February 1985 arrests of about 40 Bahais and their release within a week.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1987 refers to the February 1985 arrests of
41 adherents of the Baha'i faith, which is not considered a recognized religion and is generally regarded by Muslims as apostasy from Islam; reportedly, within a week those arrested were all released. The press later reported that the State Security Prosecutor declined to try the Baha'is because their ostensible offense, belonging to an apostate religion, is not a crime under Egypt's penal code; instead, he transferred the case to another court for prosecution under statutes forbidding the use of religion to promote seditious ideas and for the violation of a 1960 law outlawing organized activities by Baha'is. In April, a Cairo district court found 39 of the Baha'i defendants guilty of violating the 1960 ban on the Baha'i" spiritual assemblies," and sentenced them to 2 years in prison and a fine (1988, 1141).
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988 refers to the 1988 resolution of a case involving 50 members of Egypt's Bahai community who were charged in 1985 with violating "a ban from the Nasser era on Baha'i religious gatherings" when "two courts of appeals exonerated the defendants of all charges" (1989, 1319).
Referring to the same case, Amnesty International Report 1989 states that 48 Bahais
who had been sentenced to three years' imprisonment in May 1987 ... appealed successfully against their convictions and sentences in February. The Court of Appeal overturned the first court's judgement on the grounds that none had been found guilty of the specific acts punishable under Decree Law 263 of 1960, which ordered the dissolution of Baha'i assemblies. All had been at liberty pending the appeal (1989, 253).
With the exception of the information provided by the representative of the Bahai Spiritual Assembly, sources consulted by the DIRB do not provide information on the treatment of Bahais in the 1990s.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Amnesty International. 1990. Amnesty International Report 1989. New York: Amnesty International USA.
Bahai Spiritual Assembly, Toronto. 31 October 1996. Telephone interview with representative.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988. 1989. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1987. 1988. United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office.
The Associated Press (AP). 9 October 1987. PM Cycle. Barry Schweid. "Washington Wire: Heretics in the Moslem World." (NEXIS)
The New York Times. 27 May 1988. Final Edition. A.M. Rosenthal. "On My Mind; This Censored World." (NEXIS)
_____. 22 October 1987. Final Edition. Lena Williams. "Washington Talk: Religion; Bahais Open a Lobbying Operation." (NEXIS)
_____. 1 August 1987. Final Edition. "Egyptian Bahais Are under Attack." (NEXIS)
Additional Sources Consulted
Amnesty International country file (Egypt). 1990-96.
Amnesty International Report. 1980, 1981, 1983-85, 1989-96.
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports. 1991-96.
Human Rights Watch World Report. 1990-96.
Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. 1988-96.
The Middle East [London]. 1991-96.
Middle East International [London]. 1991-96.
On-line search of news articles.