Friday, January 12, 2007

Bahai Persecution in Egypt

Because of the overwhelming importantce of this appeal for tolerance of the Baha'i community in Egypt, we have mirrored the Following article, a translation. The author, Mr. Is'haq El-Sheikh, who is a regular columnist in AlAyam daily (a newspaper published in Bahrain), elucidates both the true spirit of Islam (which is rapidly under attack by fundamentalists and extremists of both Sunni and Shiite persuasion) as well as the true spirit of the Baha'i Faith.

It should be noted that this journalist is not a Baha'i.

"The sublimity of this divine Bahá [glory] was reacting with and reflected by the spirit and conscience of people as a joyfulness based on the principle of the unity of humanity, aimed at creating eternal happiness in their lives and consecrating them towards establishing a just peace on the face of the globe. From light, bursts forth Al-Bahá [the glory] in an exalted illumination, ennobling the souls [of people], calling to truth in beauty, loveliness and splendour.

From the dawn of history the heavenly [Divine] and non-heavenly religions have called for love and peace for the sake of salvation and good deeds among the people...and if the three heavenly religions call for love, Al-Baha’iyyah [Baha'i Faith], as a new religion, considers that it summarises and develops the achievement [essence] of these religious ideologies and elevates them to the spirit of the age and its feature of rapidly shrinking distances between nations and peoples, placing them in a home in one small village.

Not once--since its inception--has the Bahá’í religion taken one stand against the three heavenly religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, or any other religion. Rather, it started to spread its splendour in Bahá’u’lláh and the justice of His light, calling, reiterating and blessing--uncovering [throwing light on] the Bahá of glory of God in the heavens and on earth, through peace, love and the spreading of good-will among people.... It is as if he is repeating the Christian “Glory to God on high, peace on earth and love for all,” or the Judaic call: “Love one another, be in fellowship...thus will God love you,” or the Muhammadan call: “The doctrine of God lieth in loving people” [all paraphrased by translator]. This is what Al-Baha’iyyah means by: “This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue.”

Al-Bahaiyyah did not litter our paths with ugliness [indecency]; it did not declare hatred and enmity against our religion nor did it refute its spirit of true forbearance and tolerance; rather it has enshrined its luminous station, and cast the splendour of its enlightenment on the face of the earth in justice, love, peace and human solidarity and unity.

It was the International Declaration of Human Rights, perfected through earthly volition, promising all countries, including the Arab nations--with their customary apprehensive mistrust [sentence not completed]--that called for freedom of religion and the right of all nations to embrace a religion and a belief or not to have a belief. This, we see, is in harmony with the Muhammadan religion’s call for the right of religious freedom, and which the Holy Qur’an affirms: “You have your religion and I have mine” [paraphrased].

The purport of all of the above is to explain what has caused the indignation of all human rights proponents on the face of the earth when the sad and distressing news were reported about an oppressive and inhumane persecution of the [Egyptian] Bahá’í minority as it was deprived of the most basic of citizenship rights, following their natural right to belong to the Bahá’í religion--a right that is affirmed by all countries that are signatory to the Human Rights Convention. This has resulted in a big disappointment in the fairness of the Egyptian judiciary which has deprived them of citizenship rights. The justification for the court ruling was that the Egyptian constitution does not recognise any [religion] except the three heavenly religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism; as though laws and constitutions, that have been superseded by life and worn out by the passage of time, are holy and irrevocable scriptures that cannot be changed for the better.

It is known that the Egyptian Bahá’í minority did not ask for the Bahá’í Faith to be recognized, even though it is one of the rights of citizenship.... Its wish was simply to be free to carry out the requirement of the civil law that they must obtain identification cards without lying about their religious beliefs. Possessing such a card is a common right to which every native born Egyptian is entitled. It is indeed very strange that the custodians of the law would themselves enforce the violation of a government policy that all citizens without exception are expected to observe.... This has been pointed out by the Bahá’í Universal House of Justice in referring to the ordeal of the Egyptian Bahá’í minority; and the Universal House of Justice rightly poses this question in this regard, saying: “But to what purpose were these three religions invoked? Was it to justify the exclusion of certain citizens from exercising their civil rights? Would this not amount to a misuse of the authority of these faiths to perpetrate an injustice that offends the high standard of justice to which they hold their adherents?” [a direct quote from the Arabic translation]. The Universal House of Justice further affirms that the ruling issued against the Egyptian Bahá’í minority in not granting the personal ID was “unreasonable not only because it is contrary to prescriptions set forth in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, but more especially because the sacred scriptures of Islam extol tolerance as a precept of social stability.”

All the democratic, enlightened and forward-thinking forces that care about the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights raise their voices, in solidarity and support of all religious minorities alike--those within the Judaic, Christian and Muslim religions and those without--calling for the lifting of oppression from these minorities and the integration of their citizenship in the political, social, cultural and religious life of society, the same as all citizens whose rights are upheld by the observed laws and constitutions.

The Bahá’í order is a religious, world-wide, humane, peaceful and tolerant order in its principles, rites and daily observances as well as its attitude to other religions. To wage war against it and harass it is an unethical act that contradicts the spirit of Islam and its lofty ideals of treating other religions with tolerance and humane Islamic virtues, encapsulated in the spirit of [this verse]: “Wherefore have you enslaved people when their mothers have birthed them free?” The age of slavery has gone for ever; let the hands and minds and consciences of all the religions on earth be raised up in dialogue, love and brotherly solidarity for the sake of human justice and against tyranny, persecution and enslaving other rights and religions."

The Rose Crescent House of Peace calls on the government of Egypt and the Muslim peoples of Egypt to defend the rights of the minority Baha'i community.



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