CAIRO: A delegation of Bahai activists filed a memo to the Ministry of Justice, demanding to be included in the unified personal status law for non-Muslims.
The Bahai delegation included Raouf Hindi, spokesman for Egyptian Bahais, Labib Iskandar, a professor at Cairo University, Basma Moussa, professor at the faculty of medicine, and engineer Atef El-Ekhnawi.
Hindi told Daily News Egypt that "officials at the Ministry of Justice promised to review the memo before they decide whether to include it in the ongoing discussions [of the new law]."
They presented a copy of a personal status law for Bahais, issued in by their central committee in Egypt in 1932, as well as samples of Bahai marriage and divorce forms, as a reference to the ministry during their discussions.
Hindi said that Egyptian Bahais represent a significant number of Egyptian citizens and ignoring them is a clear violation of the constitution and international conventions.
"Bahais still suffer a great deal to be able to issue identification papers, especially national ID cards as the civil status authority refuses to recognize marriage or divorce contracts of Bahais and therefore it refuses to issue national ID cards for married, divorced and widowed Bahais," he said.
Hindi called on state officials to find a solution for their problems, as their lives have become "completely paralyzed."
Moussa told Daily News Egypt that Bahai personal status issues are different from personal status cases in Christianity or Islam.
“The copy of the personal status law that we presented to the Ministry of Justice includes 53 articles that regulate personal status cases regarding Bahais including provisions related to marriage, divorce and inheritance."
Moussa added that the most prominent differences between the Bahai religion and Islam and Christianity lie in marriage and divorce cases.
"Eight witnesses must sign a marriage contract in order to verify it, and a temporary one- year divorce contract is issued before any divorce is finalized," she said.
She added: "Inheritance is divided equally between men and women [in Bahaism]."
In June, following controversy over a court ruling — which was later frozen — obliging the Church to issue remarriage licenses to divorcees, the Ministry of Justice formed a special committee to prepare and review a unified personal status law for non-Muslims.
The draft was based on input from Egypt’s main churches, the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches.
However, the Secular Copts and the Roman Catholics later submitted an alternative draft law to the Ministry, presenting their vision of what this personal status law should include.