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Egyptian identification card controversy

The Egyptian identification card controversy is a series of events, beginning in the 1990s, that created a de facto state of disenfranchisement for Egyptian Bahá’ís, atheists, agnostics water bottle safety, and other Egyptians who did not identify themselves as Muslim, Christian, or Jewish on government identity documents.

During the period of disenfranchisement, the people affected, who were mostly Bahá’ís, were unable to obtain the necessary government documents to have rights in their country unless they lied about their religion, which conflicted with Bahá’í religious principle. Those affected could not obtain identification cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, or passports. Without those documents, they could not be employed, educated, treated in hospitals, or vote, among other things.

As of August, 2009, the situation is apparently resolved, following a protracted legal process. Identification documents may now list a dash in place of one of the three recognized religions. Under this compromise solution, the Bahá’í Faith and other beliefs are still unrecognized by the government — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism remain the only recognized religions. The first identification cards were issued to two Bahá’ís under the new policy on August 8, 2009.

Similarly to Iran and several other Muslim-majority countries[citation needed], the Egyptian government requires that its citizens list their religion on government identity documents. Egyptian law recognizes Christianity and Judaism, and provides for some measure of tolerance for these minority groups. Of those who do not identify themselves with one of the three government-recognized religions of Egypt, the largest group of Egyptians with unrecognized beliefs is believed to be the Bahá’ís. Although reliable statistics are not available, the number of Bahá’ís in Egypt has been estimated at about 2,000 as of 2006. Bahá’í institutions and community activities have been illegal under Egyptian law since 1960 by Law 263 at the decree of then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Egyptian Bahá’ís have suffered from continual persecution, including the government confiscation of Bahá’í centres, libraries, and cemeteries, and have been charged with apostasy. Although few Egyptians publicly identify as atheists or agnostics, they faced similar difficulties.

All Egyptian citizens must carry national identification cards, which must be presented for any type of government service, such as medical care in a public hospital or processing for a property title or deed as well as to obtain employment, education, banking services, and many other important private transactions. ID cards are also required to pass through police checkpoints, and individuals without such cards are accordingly deprived of freedom of movement. The national identification cards contained a field for religion, with only Islam, Christianity and Judaism acceptable as a religion.

Changing religion on one’s card is extremely difficult, especially for those who are converting from Islam. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, claims that conversion to Christianity remains prohibited in practise even though Article 46 of the Constitution says that the state guarantees freedom of belief and religion. Therefore, according to the Vital Statistics Office, a Muslim who is baptised a Christian is still a Muslim. This means that a former Muslim cannot change his or her identity papers to show a new religion or name. The charity claims that the lack of a law on conversion from Islam to another religion leaves the matter in the hands of judges who must choose between Sharia and the principle of equality of all citizens before the law.

In 2008 Christian convert Mohammed Higazi was not allowed to have his identity changed to register his change of religion from Islam to Christianity. During a trial to have his religion changed on his identity papers, the opposing lawyer made death threats against Mr Higazi for converting to Christianity. The judge made no objection to these statements and expressed his loathing of the accused because of his conversion. The judge stated that he would never let Higazy be registered as a Christian. He defended his decision by saying that Islam is the principal religion in Egypt.

Major hardship began in the 1990s when the government modernized the electronic processing of national identification cards. Prior to this, Bahá’ís were sometimes able to obtain identification documents from a sympathetic clerk willing to issue a card that left the religious-affiliation slot blank, listed religion as “other” or a dash, or listed “Bahá’í.” Bahá’ís have long refused as a matter of religious principle to falsely list themselves as Muslim, Christian, or Jew.

Electronic processing locked out the possibility of an unlisted religion, or any religious affiliation other than Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. Consequently, adherents of any other faith (or no faith) became unable to obtain any government identification documents (such as national identification cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, or passports) necessary to exercise their rights in their country unless they lied about their religion.

Without documents, Bahá’ís could not be employed, educated, treated in hospitals, withdraw their own money from a bank, purchase food from state stores, or vote, among other hardships. Bahá’ís became virtual non-citizens, without access to employment, education, and all government services, including hospital care. A number of Bahá’í young people are without valid ID cards, a situation that has forced them out of universities and the army, placing them on the margins of society.

In the 1990s, the Egyptian government announced it would be upgrading its identification card system by issuing computerized cards that would be less susceptible to forgery. This, the government indicated, would help to combat militant Islamic unrest, and improve data collection and access. The government indicated the shift to the new system would be gradual, but set January 2005 as the deadline for everyone to have the new cards — a deadline which was apparently extended to 2006.

The system had apparently undergone modifications since it was set up. In 2003, for example, four Bahá’ís sought and obtained new computerized cards in which the religious affiliation field listed “other” — a designation to which the Bahá’í community does not object. More recently, however, the software had been updated so that only one of the three recognized religions can be entered. If the field is left blank, the computer refuses to issue the card.

The Bahá’í community of Egypt had approached the government on numerous occasions to plead for a simple change in the programming, if not the law, so that they could be issued valid ID cards under the new system. Such pleas, however, had been met with rejection and refusal.

Accordingly, all members of the Egyptian Bahá’í community faced the prospect of being left wholly without proper ID cards by 2006 — a situation in which they would essentially be denied all rights of citizenship, and, indeed, would be faced with the inability even to withdraw their own money from the bank, get medical treatment at public hospitals, or purchase food from state stores.

As the new cards were being issued, the government had asked young people to start coming in for the new cards, and a number of Bahá’í youth had accordingly been stripped of paper identification cards. Once stripped of ID cards, the Bahá’í youth essentially become prisoners in their own homes, since the authorities often set up evening checkpoints to verify the identity of young men. Individuals without proper ID face detention. Likewise, young people without ID cards are denied entrance and continuing enrollment in colleges and universities, as well as service in the armed forces.

On April 4, 2006, a three-judge panel of the Egyptian Administrative Court upheld the right of a Bahá’í couple to lawfully state their religion on their ID cards. The cards had been confiscated by the government after the couple sought to have their passports updated to include their daughters. The couple, Husam Izzat Musa and Ranya Enayat Rushdy, sued, stating that the confiscation of the cards was illegal under Egypt’s Constitution and international law. The court ruled for the couple, citing existing precedents and Islamic jurisprudence that allow for the right of non-Muslims to live in Muslim lands “without any of them being forced to change what they believe in” and ordered the civil registry to issue new documents that properly identify them as Bahá’ís.

The court wrote:

In the aftermath of the court ruling, various news media in Egypt and the Arab world reported on the ruling. Human rights groups in Egypt were supportive of the decision, while representatives of Al-Azhar University and the government were negative. Newspapers in Bahrain, Kuwait and elsewhere in the region also wrote about the case, with many going into long explanations about the Bahá’í Faith. Some statements by other organizations after the initial ruling include:

On 28 April 2006 after reading that the Egyptian government asked for information on the Bahá’í Faith from members of Al-Azhar University, and knowing that much misinformation about the Bahá’í Faith has been published in the Egyptian media, the Bahá’í International Community’s United Nations Office wrote to leaders of the Al Azhar Islamic Research Council to explain the essential principles of Bahá’í belief. The letter, which contained a brief statement of basic Bahá’í principles and doctrine, also asked that facts about the Bahá’í religion be obtained from trustworthy sources that were “uninfluenced by the misconceptions” that are being spread about the Bahá’í Faith.

The Egyptian government formally appealed the Administrative Court’s ruling on 7 May 2006. The appeal came after attacks on the ruling in the Egyptian parliament and by representatives of Al-Azhar Islamic Centre. According to the IRIN news service water in a glass bottle, an Interior Ministry official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “We presented an appeal to revoke the previous ruling on the basis that neither the Egyptian constitution nor Islamic law recognize Bahaism [sic] as a religion unto itself.” Then on 13 May 2006 Kifayah, a loosely organized group of civil society organizations, journalists, writers, artists and academics, issued a collective statement calling for an end to discrimination against Bahá’ís. The group which is composed of the Popular Group for Change, the Egyptian Democratic Centre, the Centre for Socialist Studies, Socialist Horizons, the Arabic network for Human Rights Information, and Civil Watch for Human Rights, along with some 40 journalists, writers remington shavers canada, artists and academics wrote:

Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court on 15 May suspended the implementation of the earlier lower Administrative Court ruling that allowed Bahá’ís to have their religion recognized on official documents. The court agreed to hear the appeal starting on June 16, which continued to September 16. During this time, the state-sponsored National Council for Human Rights held a major symposium on the issues surrounding religious affiliation and identity cards, at which the Bahá’í community offered some testimony. The hearing was, however, postponed by the Supreme Administrative Court on 21 September 2006 until 20 November, to await the completion of an advisory report by the State Commissioner’s Authority.

During the court’s wait, the Egyptian newspaper Rose al-Youssef published a story on October 14, 2006 stating that the advisory report was completed, and that the State Commissioner’s Authority is urging the rejection of the lower court’s ruling. Then on 2 December a final hearing was held; the court indicated that its judgement would be issued in the case on 16 December. The Supreme Administrative Court issued its final judgement in the case of Husam Izzat Musa and Ranya Enayat Rushdy on 16 December, upholding the government’s policy of allowing only three religious affiliations on state ID cards and government documents.

After the ruling, various Egyptian human rights organizations, such as the Cairo Centre for Human Rights Studies, issued statements of support for the Bahá’í community of Egypt in their struggle for basic civil rights. The Universal House of Justice, the highest governing body of the Baha’i Faith on 21 December addressed a message to the Baha’is of Egypt in the wake of the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision stating that they should continue in striving to continue to uphold the principle of the oneness of humankind and other Bahá’í principles.

On January 29, 2008 Cairo’s court of Administrative Justice, ruling on two related court cases, and after six postponements, ruled in favour of the Bahá’ís, allowing them to obtain birth certificates and identification documents, so long as they omit their religion on court documents; the government may, however, still appeal against the judgement. The director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, who has brought the two cases to court, stated “This is a very welcome decision. It addresses a great injustice suffered by Bahai citizens who face arbitrary and discriminatory practices based on their religious beliefs. We urge that the authorities implement the Administrative Court’s decision.” The chief judge in the court case stated that while the Baha’i Faith is still not recognized as one of the three officially recognized state religions, they will enjoy the right to refuse to identify oneself as one of those three religions, and will have access to state cards. Egyptian Ministry of Interior was slow to implement the ruling: as of April 22, 2008, no identification cards had been issued to Bahá’ís.

Since the December 16, 2006 decision by Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court, two other court cases addressing the rights of Egyptian Bahá’ís to obtain basic identity documents and education have been brought up. The first case, which was filed on February 2007, was brought forward by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) on behalf of a Bahá’í university student, Hosni Hussein Abdel-Massih. Abdel-Massih was suspended from the Suez Canal University’s Higher Institute of Social Work since he was unable to obtain an identity card due to his religious affiliation. The Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo was to decide on this case on September 5, 2007 but postponed the decision to October 30, 2007. The case was further postponed, for the fifth time on January 22, 2008, for an anticipated verdict during the 29 January 2008 court session. On January 29, 2008, Cairo’s court of Administrative Justice ruled in favour of the Bahá’ís, allowing them to obtain identification documents, so long as they omit their religion on court documents.

The second case involved two 14-year-old twins who were unable to obtain birth certificates unless they converted to a recognized religion reusable bpa free water bottles. While the father of the twins had originally obtained birth certificates when the children were born in 1993 with their religious affiliation as Bahá’í, he was unable to obtain new birth certificates which contain the national number. Without the national number on the birth certificate, the children were unable to enroll in public schools. Since the Supreme Administrative Court’s decision in 2006 found that the government had the right to deny Egyptian Bahá’ís identity documents recognizing their religious affiliation, the EIPR modified the requested remedies in the case; the issue before the Court of Administrative Justice is whether Bahá’ís can obtain documents without any religious affiliation or without falsely identifying oneself as one of the recognized religions. This court case was also set to be decided up on September 5, 2007, but the decision has also been postponed to October 30, 2007. As with the other court case, Cairo’s court of Administrative Justice also ruled in favour of the Bahá’ís, allowing them to obtain birth certificates, if they omit their religion on the documents. The EIPR stated that they will immediately seek to obtain papers for the twins.

To comply with the January 2008 ruling, on April 14, 2009, the interior minister of Egypt released a decree amending the law to allow Egyptians who are not Muslim, Christian, or Jewish to obtain identification documents that list dash in place of one of the three recognized religion. The first identification cards were issued to two Bahá’ís (the two twins who have turned 16 by then) under the new decree on August 8, 2009.

The state of things after the 2011 Egyptian revolution is not clear. There have been renewed threats from some quarters of Egyptian society. In late 2012 Dr. Ibrahim Ghoniem, acting Minister of Education and member of the Muslim Brotherhood stated his opinion the Bahá’í children would be excluded from the Egyptian school system. Related comments also put in doubt the status of the Identification Controversy.

The Enchanted April

The Enchanted April is a 1922 novel by British-American writer Elizabeth von Arnim. The work was inspired by a month-long holiday to the Italian Riviera, probably the most widely read (as an English and American best seller in 1923) and perhaps the lightest and most ebullient of her novels.

The novel follows four dissimilar women in 1920s England who leave their rainy, grey environments to go on holiday in Italy. Mrs Arbuthnot and Mrs Wilkins, who belong to the same ladies’ club but have never spoken, become acquainted after reading a newspaper advertisement for a small medieval castle on the Mediterranean to be let furnished for April sells goalkeeper gloves australia. They find some common ground in that both are struggling to make the best of unhappy marriages. They also reluctantly take on the waspish, elderly Mrs Fisher and the stunning but aloof Lady Caroline Dester to defray expenses. The very genuine and open Lottie Wilkins, often muddled and awkward in her speech water bottled in glass, has been married only a few years, but she and her husband are rubbing each other the wrong way; as the novel progresses her intuition into her new friends’ feelings and needs plays a major role. Rose Arbuthnot is highly religious lady who does extensive charity work, but is married to an author of racy popular novels who neglects her, partly because of her persistent disapproval of his work. Lady Caroline Dester is a beautiful socialite who is tired of the burden of London society and is beginning to regard her life as shallow and empty, after a man she loved died in WWI. Mrs. Fisher is a pompous, snobbish, highly proper lady who knew many Victorian luminaries and regards herself as the hostess and in control of the holiday; she prefers to live in her memories of times past rather than embracing the present and is emotionally closed-off reusable bpa free water bottles. The four women experience interpersonal tensions but eventually come together at the castle and find rejuvenation in the tranquil beauty of their surroundings, rediscovering hope and love.

Von Arnim wrote, and set, the book in the 15th-century Castello Brown. Critic Terence de Vere White credited The Enchanted April with making the Italian resort of Portofino fashionable.

The Enchanted April has regularly been adapted for the stage and screen:

Nant Gwrtheyrn

El Centro de la Lengua y Patrimonio Galeses Nant Gwrtheyrn está situado en un antiguo pueblo minero, en la costa norte de la península de Lleyn (Llŷn en galés), Gwynedd, en el noroeste de Gales.

A veces se le refiere como ‘el Nant’ (the Nant) y toma su nombre del valle en el que se localiza, Nant Gwrtheyrn, que se encuentra aislado por el mar al pie de Yr Eifl. El centro está construido dentro de las estructuras del antiguo pueblo minero Porth y Nant, que fue abandonado durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial tras el cese de la minería.

La cantera llamada Nant Gwrtheyrn se abrió en 1861 y era atendida por un pueblo en el sitio del actual centro lingüístico llamado Porth y Nant. Nant Gwrtheyrn producía adoquines para carreteras. La comunidad vivía de forma aislada, con productos enviandos principalmente a través del mar de Irlanda, siendo así limitado el contacto con el mundo exterior.

La canterra cerró cerca de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, en parte debido a la caída de la demanda y también a las dificultades de transporte. Las laderas de Nant, junto con sus marcas paisajísticas y las ruinas de las estructuras mineras, testifican su antigua existencia.

Tras el cierre, la comunidad se dispersó y las casas cayeron en mal estado. Fueron ocupadas por hippies durante un tiempo durante la década de 1960, el lugar era objetivo de varios planes de revitalización, incluyendo una escuela, cuando fue adquirido por una fundación local decidió establecer un centro lingüístico galés aquí.

El centro está especializado en cursos para adultos que quieren aprender galés. Los cursos tienen lugar durante todo el año con varios niveles desde los más principiantes hasta niveles profesionales, con fines de semana para estudiantes y otras actividades para fortalecer el entendimiento. A los participantes normalmente se les ofrece una o dos experiencias culturales así como aprendizaje formal. Los estudiantes se alojan en el peublo, compuesto por dos filas de casas rurales de los antiguos trabajadores reusable bpa free water bottles, Trem y Mor (vistas marinas) y Trem y Mynydd (vistas de montaña).

Asimismo, el centro se usa para bodas y conferencias, y como sitio residencial para estudiantes de Escritura Imaginativa en la Universidad John Moores de Liverpool. El paisaje alrededor de Nant Gwrtheyrn es famoso por su extraordinaria belleza natural y por ello es frecuentado por escritores y fotógrafos.

La cercana playa puede verse desde el pueblo y accesible a través de un camino sin pavimentar. Las vistas dan a Porth Dinllaen y en días claros puede avistarse el faro de South Stack en Anglesey. El castillo de Gwrtheyrn fue destruido por un incendio del cielo, según la leyenda bpa drink bottles.

El lejano emplazamiento del centro implica un difícil acceso. La carretera original que llegaba al pueblo era muy empinada y estaba llena de curvas cerradas, por lo que era inapropiada para conductores nerviosos o inexperimentados, o en malas condiciones meteorológicas. Fue por ello usada como sacacorchos para pruebas en tierra por muchas compañías automovilísticas internacionales. Ahora ha sido mejorada y posee lugares de paso.

La parada de bus más cercana se encuentra en el cercano pueblo de Llithfaen y las estaciones de tren más cercanas están en Pwllheli y Bangor. También es posible ir andando al centro desde lo alto del valle, pero la bajada puede llevar cuarenta minutos, mientras la subida es agotante y cuesta una hora.