The House of Representatives is set to discuss the bill of citizenship and non-discrimination on 6 August. The bill is filed by member of parliament Alaa Abdel Moneim, and includes a clause stipulating that the category of religion be eliminated from Egyptian IDs, in order to prevent discrimination against citizens.
The parliamentary Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee will discuss the bill that was filed by Abdel Moneim and 60 other MPs, following the sectarian clashes that recently erupted across Egypt.
Daily News Egypt tried to reach Abdel Moneim, but he was not available for comment.
The third clause in the article stipulates that religion shall be removed from citizens’ IDs, alleviating the pressure on people to disclose their religion, except for marriage and inheritance contracts.
According to the bill, all the state’s national, central, and private bodies and all non-governmental organisations shall not discriminate between citizens based on colour, religion, or ethnicity. The bill stipulates that anyone who violates this clause will face imprisonment, if the violation is reported.
The bill also stipulated that citizens should only be employed based on competency and qualifications. Furthermore, the sixth clause in the bill puts forth that the state should facilitate the building of mosques and churches, once demanded by the specialised religious authority, such as the Ministry of Religious Endowments and the Coptic Orthodox Church.
On the other hand, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros ll said last week that the church has managed to control Copts’ anger over the sectarian strife incidents that occurred recently, adding that the church might reject the law of constructing churches that is being discussed in the parliament.
However, after a meeting with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the head of the Public Relations Committee of the church said during an interview Saturday that all clauses and terminologies that the church rejected were removed from the law. The official stressed that incidents of sectarian strife will decline as a result of this law.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) previously said that the suggestion of removing religion from IDs is a positive step and should be seconded. It is considered to be a symbolic step, telling citizens that the state is objective towards religious beliefs.
EIPR added that any step taken to alleviate discrimination between Muslims and Copts in Egypt needs to be directly related to the recent sectarian strife. Otherwise, some Muslims might see it as a tool of favouritism for Christians.
EIPR suggested that the ideal solution would be to grant citizens the freedom to decide whether they want to include their religion on their IDs or not.
A similar bill was proposed in 2014 by the Ministry of Transitional Justice, which was also sent to several councils, including the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR). The bill was prepared in response to a request by the 30 June Fact-Finding Committee, which had called for a legislative law to prohibit discrimination among citizens.