Cairo – Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court decided on 15 May to suspend the implementation of an earlier lower court ruling that allowed Bahais to have their religion recognised on official documents.
“While [we are] disappointed by the decision to suspend the administrative court ruling it is important to note that the Supreme Administrative Court has yet to decide on the merits of the case,” read a press statement issued by the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Private Rights (EIPR).
The earlier ruling, made on 4 April, was passed after a case was filed by a Bahai couple whose official documentation – on which their affiliation to Bahaism was stated – had been confiscated by the state. The ruling quickly became the epicentre of controversy in parliament, led by members of both the ruling National Democratic Party and the banned-but-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, after which the interior ministry quickly filed an appeal to overturn the ruling.
“We have no issue with people describing themselves as followers of beliefs not recognised by Islam,” prominent Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Futouh said on 7 May. “What must be appealed is a ruling allowing followers of unrecognised faiths to describe themselves as followers of a religion in official documents when it’s not technically a religion.”
Why Mr. Futouh, what a novel idea! Not technically a religion, you say? Hummm…