Respecting Public Order and Morals
In the December 16, 2006 decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Egypt, the issue of respecting public order and morals was raised as a rationale for the denial of the right of religious minorities, such as the Baha’is, to obtain civil ID cards. In reviewing the court case, many fair-minded observers, including dear readers of this blog, noted that the issue of public order was in no way connected with the central legal question at the heart of the case: whether all Egyptians were entiled to obtian ID cards.
Several questions can be raised about a public order rationale as a basis for denying a certain group of individuals the right to obtain a civil ID card. First, are not public order and morals furthered when all citizens are duly registered with the state?
Second, though the issue of public order and morals was irrelevant to the central issue of the case, nevertheless, on investigation of the teachings and practices of the Baha’i community related to public order and moral life, one finds that a fundamental principle of Baha’i membership is that one be obedient to one’s government, that one not take part in partisan politics, or seek to stir disorder in society. From the inception of the Baha’i Faith, obedience to just government has been a primary principle of belief. As described in the Baha’i writings:
“According to the direct and sacred command of God…[Baha'is] must obey and be the well wishers of the government of the land, regard disloyalty unto a just king as disloyalty to God Himself and wishing evil to the goverment a transgression of the Cause of God.”
Furthermore, the exercise of a moral life in the Baha’i Faith is regarded as a “spiritual prerequisite” of all activity. According to the Baha’i writings “these requirements are none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives, and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a different race, class, creed, or color.”
Certainly such teachings, which are common to the pure precepts of all religions, are not contrary to public order and morals. Would not equal entitlement to the rights of Egyptian citizenship, including to those who are the adherents of such principles, further the aim of establishing public order and morality?