Seeking Justice

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?


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  1. * bilo says:

    Whenever the Egyptian courts, al-Azhar or government agencies cited the disturbance of public order if Baha’is were to be given their rights, they had never stated exactly what that disturbance would be. However, they have been using the term “public order” as a catch phrase and an excuse with the intention of raising doubt and distrust towards the Baha’is. That strategy, in itself, violates and tends to disrupt “public order” on its own. What an irony!

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  2. * R.A. says:

    Two observations are to be realized from the Egyptian government accusation that Baha’is are a “threat” to public order:

    The first is that the ruling passed against the Baha’is based on an accusation of threat; unsubstantiated, as a threat, more so one undefined, is not a criminal offense. Public disorder includes such crimes as treason, sedition, riot, affray, unlawful assembly, violent disorder, racial and religious hatred, aggravated trespass, watching and besetting, etc.; none of which have been committed by a single Baha’i or the collective membership.

    The second is what may be extracted from the application of the term threat; that it firmly implies acts of public disorder by the radical and less progressive elements of the Islamic community. The potential – and perhaps unlikely – offenders would be those whose intolerance and blind rage may possibly spark violent and disruptive disorder.

    In light of this, the potential criminal consequences of the displeased population – by allowing civil documents to members of the Baha’i community – have been assigned sentence in advance to those who are the victims rather than the potential offenders. Furthermore, evident offences committed against the Baha’i community by government and religious authorities, and various media, have been left to stand without judgment; those of slander and libel.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 6 months ago
  3. * jsmayton says:

    hi there. I wanted to say I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this blog. I am currently writing a book at this and want to know how we may get in touch to talk about these issues. Please email me. Thank you and I apologize for this post. I assume you get my email address. If not, respond with a way to get in touch. cheers.

    | Reply Posted 11 years, 5 months ago

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