2007 November 20 Tuesday
Egyptians Not Allowed To Be Bahai Or Convert From Islam

I found the Human Rights Watch - Middle East and Northern Africa page (i.e. all the nasty things Muslim governments do) and it has lots of articles about how Muslim societies are not fun for non-Muslims. Egyptians are only allowed to register as Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. Baha’is officially don't exist in Egypt because in orthodox Islam only followers of Abrahamic religions which preceded Islam are "people of the book" worthy of dhimmi status (and dhimmi status is second class citizenship at best).

(Cairo, November 12, 2007) – Egypt should allow all citizens to use their actual religious identity when required to list religion on government documents, Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) said today. The government’s discriminatory practice of restricting identity to three religions, directed at Baha’is and preventing converts from Islam from listing their true belief, violate many rights and cause immense hardship.

In their 98-page report, “Prohibited Identities: State Interference with Religious Freedom,” Human Rights Watch and the EIPR document how Ministry of Interior officials systematically prevent Baha’is and converts from Islam from registering their actual religious belief in national identity documents, birth certificates, and other essential papers. They do this based not on any Egyptian law, but on their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. This denial can have far-reaching consequences for the daily lives of those affected, including choosing a spouse, educating one’s children, or conducting the most basic financial and other transactions.

“Interior Ministry officials apparently believe they have the right to choose someone’s religion when they don’t like the religion that person chooses,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. “The government should end its arbitrary refusal to recognize some people’s religious beliefs. This policy strikes at the core of a person’s identity, and its practical consequences seriously harm their daily lives.”

The Egyptian government also does not allow Muslims who convert to Christianity to change their identity card religion. But at least they recognize Jews and Christians. Does the Egyptian government allow Zoroastrians to register?

In theory the Koran in 22:17 gives Zoroastrians some standing by referring to the Zoroastrians of the Magian Zoroastrian sect.

022.017 YUSUFALI: Those who believe (in the Qur'an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians, Christians, Magians, and Polytheists,- Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things.
PICKTHAL: Lo! those who believe (this revelation), and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans and the Christians and the Magians and the idolaters - Lo! Allah will decide between them on the Day of Resurrection. Lo! Allah is Witness over all things.
SHAKIR: Surely those who believe and those who are Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associate (others with Allah)-- surely Allah will decide between them on the day of resurrection; surely Allah is a witness over all things.

So are you allowed to be a Zoroastrian in Egypt? Or are Zoroastrians not allowed to exist there?

The Koran puts Christians and Jews in a submissive position as At-Tawba 29 (9:29) shows with a requirement to pay a special Jizya tax.

YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
PICKTHAL: Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
SHAKIR: Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.

That tax probably played a big role in reducing the numbers of Christians and Jews in lands which Muslims conquered. First, the tax was an incentive to convert to Islam. Conversion ended the tax. Second, the tax reduced the amount of money available for food and housing and therefore reduced surviving offspring in an era when calorie malnutrition was the biggest killer.

If Egyptians are allowed to be Jews then they have an advantage over Jordanians...

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 November 20 10:29 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

Wolf-Dog said at November 20, 2007 11:23 PM:

According to this web site there are 11 million Coptic Christians in Egypt:

In the United States I spoke to 2 immigrant Coptic Christians from Egypt, and although this is a very small statistical sample to base one's opinion, they gave me the impression that in Egypt Coptic Christians were treated like second class citizens.

Anon said at November 21, 2007 7:18 AM:

they gave me the impression that in Egypt Coptic Christians were treated like second class citizens

That is because they are.

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