CAIRO: Egypt’s Bahais are demanding they be included in the unified personal status law for non-Muslims or the formation of a new legislation that includes them altogether.
Bahais, whose numbers range between 2,000 to 3,000 in Egypt, can’t document their marriages because the state doesn’t recognize them.
The Supreme Administrative Court last year ruled in the Bahais’ favor, allowing them to issue National ID cards, with a dash in the religion affiliation field.
The interior ministry’s civil status department agreed to implement the verdict on unmarried Bahais based on the fact that their marriages aren’t officially recognized or documented.
The Bahais have voiced their demands for a unified personal status law for non-Muslims again, following the recent stand-off between the church and the state.
The unified status law for Christians has been recently raised by the church, after the Administrative Court issued a verdict compelling Pope Shenouda III, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, to allow divorced Copts to remarry.
Bahai activists filed requests to a number of state institutions including the Cabinet and the Ministry of Justice, demanding the drafting of a new legislation that could settle the issue.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) is negotiating a settlement to solve the Bahais’ problems with a number of government officials, before resorting to court.
Bahai activist Basma Moussa told Daily News Egypt that the Bahais’ main problem is that the state doesn’t recognize their marriage.
Moussa added that the civil status department issued a National ID card for her son, but refused to issue it for her.
"None of the Bahais can file a lawsuit because they can’t give power of attorney to any lawyer without a National ID Card," Moussa said
She added that they had filed the first lawsuit using their old National ID cards which they can no longer use.
Hossam Bahgat, director of the EIPR, told Daily News Egypt, "In case the negotiations the organization [EIPR] is conducting with a number of governmental officials fails, we’ll have no choice but to go through a new legal battle."