4 April 2006 Adminstrative Court Ruling

Summary translation of
a judgment rendered by the Egyptian Administrative Court
delivered by the learned trial judges
Faruq ‘Ali ‘Abdu’l-Qadir
Salah-u-ddin algruani
And Hamed Al-Halfawi
On April 4 2006

In the case no. 24044 of the forty-fifth judiciary year

Husam Izzat Musa & Ranya Enayat Rushdy
The Ministry of Interior
The Department of Civil Status
The Department of Passports and Immigration
The National Council of Human Rights

The Facts:

The plaintiffs are Bahá’ís and Egyptian citizens. They requested the Department of Passports and Immigration to add the names of their daughters Bakinam, Farah and Hana to their passports. The said department refused to give them their passports back and withdrew their ID cards in violation of their legal rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The plaintiffs requested the annulment of the decision of the Department that is refusing to issue them Identity Cards on which their religion, the Bahá'í Faith, is mentioned and birth certificates for their daughters in which the Bahá'í Faith is shown.

The Court:

Considering the established fact throughout existing precedents that authoritative reference books on Islamic jurisprudence indicate that Muslim lands have housed non-Muslims with their different beliefs; that they have lived in them like the others, without any of them being forced to change what they believe in; but that the open practice of religious rites was confined to only those recognized under Islamic rule. In the customs of the Muslims of Egypt this is limited to the peoples of the Book, that is Jews and Christians only. The Shari’a provisions (Islamic jurisprudence) requires, as explained by Muslim scholars, a disclosure that would allow a distinction to be made between Muslims and non-Muslims in the exercise of social life, so as to establish the range of the rights and obligations reserved to Muslims that others cannot avail [themselves] of, for these [rights and obligations] are inconsistent with their beliefs. Thus, the obligation prescribed by the Civil Registry Act no. 143 of 1994 concerning personal status to issue every Egyptian an identity card on which his name and religion appears and the same on birth certificates is required by the provisions of Islamic Shari’a. It is not inconsistent with Islamic tenets to mention the religion on this card even though it may be a religion whose rites are not recognized for open practice, such as Bahá’ism and the like. On the contrary, these [religions] must be indicated so that the status of its bearer is known and thus he does not enjoy a legal status to which his belief does not entitle him in a Muslim society. It is not for the Civil Registry to refrain from issuing identity cards or birth certificates to the followers of Bahá’ísm, nor it is up to such a Registry to leave out the mention of this religion on their identity cards.

(Judgment of the Administrative Supreme Court delivered on 29/1/1983 in case no. 1109 of the twenty ninth judiciary year).

This [opinion] is not affected by the plea of the administration submitted in its memorandum of 5/1/2006 mentioning that the Islamic Research Academy of Al-Azhar issued a statement on 21/1/1986 implying that the Bahá’í Faith is not a religion, is not endorsed by Islam and sows the seeds of discord among the Muslim nation. The reason for this ineffectiveness is that the scope of the case under consideration is merely confined to mentioning the Bahá’í Faith on the identity card of the plaintiffs and the birth certificates of their daughters. Nothing in the papers submitted to the court shows that the plaintiffs are engaged in spreading the Bahá’í Faith or proclaiming it in any manner.

Considering the aforementioned, and because the plaintiffs are followers of the Bahá'í Faith, the refusal of the Administration to give them identity cards on which this religion is mentioned and its refusal to give them birth certificates for their daughters Bakinam, Farah and Hana on which the Bahá'í Faith is recorded constitute an illegal negative decision that the court declares null and void with the ensuing consequences, particularly to give the plaintiffs identity cards and birth certificates on all of which the Bahá'í religion is written.

Whereas the party that loses his case is bound to pay its costs in accordance with article 184 of the code of procedure.

For these reasons

The court declares the case is admissible as to its form and in the substance to annul the decision under consideration with the ensuing consequences as explained in the reasoning and to enjoin the Administration to pay the costs.

President of the Court
Secretary of the Court

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