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Sunday, January 6, 2013
Egyptian education minister: Bahais cannot enroll in public schools

Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, education minister says
Egypt Independent Sun, 06/01/2013 - 20:51
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/bahais-cannot-enroll-public-schools-education-minister-says

The education minister has repeated remarks that Bahais cannot enroll in
public schools, saying it violates the Constitution.

“The Constitution only recognizes the three Abrahamic religions,” Ibrahim
Ghoneim told Akbar Al-Youm newspaper Saturday. “And as religion is a subject
taught in schools, they do not meet the requirements for enrollment.”

Ghoneim had told Al-Sabah newspaper the same statement in November, when he
was asked, “What is the position of the ministry concerning the children of
Bahais? Do they have the right to enroll in a [ministry-affiliated] school?”

The minister responded by saying, “The state only recognizes three
religions, and the Bahai faith is not among them. Thus their children do not
have the right to register in government schools.”

In recent years, Bahais fought a battle with the government, as it refused
to issue ID cards or birth certificates for them.

All Egyptians must have national ID cards starting at the age of 16. These
cards indicate religion, and are a must for any other formal transaction,
such as applying for a driver’s license or a birth certificate, or opening a
bank account.

In 2008, an Egyptian court granted Bahais the right to obtain ID cards
without mentioning their religion, thereby ending four years of debate over
that issue.

But tensions between Bahais and the state predate the ID card issue.

In 1960, the government confiscated their assets, including land on the
banks of the Nile intended for building a house of worship, and sold them in
a public auction. At that time, the government accused the Bahais of being
loyal to Israel, which hosts the faith’s main place of worship.

The Bahai community says some Egyptian Bahais were detained for six months
after the 1967 war.

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