Christian Persecution Mar/Apr 2019
EGYPT—The Egyptian government has rejected a proposed bill to remove the religious designation required on ID cards, reflecting the enormity of the discrimination and persecution Christians face in the Muslim-dominated country.
The Egyptian government requires ID cards for almost every aspect of public life, and a Christian designation can cause problems at police stops, checkpoints, hospitals, and workplaces for the approximately 10 percent of the population that is Christian. “Whenever there is a situation that requires showing your ID, . . . you would be categorized right away,” head of policy for the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms Sherif Azer said.
Members of Egypt’s constitutional and legislative committees and the religion affairs committee determined that the proposed bill to end religious designations on ID cards did not meet the requirements for law. Their conclusion provided a smokescreen for the real reasons for the rejection, Azer said.
People arguing against the bill claimed religion doesn’t contradict the values of citizenship, the ID doesn’t prevent anyone from practicing a specific religion, and that chaos would ensue without the religious designation—such as families of Christians and Muslims burying their deceased loves ones in the graveyards of the wrong religion. “They said other silly stuff, . . . [trying to] distract from the main issue. There is no way that families would be confused,” Azer said.
“This proposal comes up frequently, and nothing ever comes of it,” Timothy Kaldas, a fellow at the Tahir Institute for Middle East Policy, said. “In general, reforms surrounding religion in Egypt are pretty hard to pass, and even when they do . . . it is often too little, if any effect,” Kaldas said.
Organizations such as sports clubs and universities in Egypt also often require one’s religion on forms, according to Ishak Ibrahim, a human-rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “There is a great need for a commission to stand up against and prevent religious discrimination and help victims of discrimination in all its forms,” Ibrahim said.
Christians in Egypt face greater challenges than the ID card issue. They face discriminatory laws in building and maintaining houses of worship and are often attacked by Muslim persecutors. Lawmakers fail to properly prosecute the attackers, Kaldas said, and instead carry out informal “reconciliation” meetings in which community elders gather to discuss a compromise, usually ending in Christians losing their worship rights. “So it creates this air of impunity around attacking churches,” he said.
Although the Egyptian constitution guarantees freedom of expression and belief, security agents from the Ministry of the Interior routinely harass and arrest converts who are suspected of leaving Islam. During Ramadan in 2016, an esteemed Egyptian Islamic scholar, Ahmed el-Tayyib, said on TV that apostates who leave Islam should be executed.
Recently, Islamic militants in Egypt killed nine Christians who were on their way to a monastery, underlying the lack of protections Christians receive from the government. “It happened exactly the same way the year before, almost at the same place,” Azer said of the attack.
As long as Sharia (Islamic law) is the source of legislation in Egypt, Christians will remain the target of Islamic persecution.
by Morning Star News
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