Seeking Justice

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Constitution of Egypt category.

Egyptian Children Still Awaiting Justice

swtalomanewspaper23-4-2007e_n.jpgThe case of Emad and Nancy, the Egyptian twins who have been denied birth certificates due to their religious beliefs, has been postponed yet again. A detailed account of the court proceeding can be found here. It is growing increasingly apparant that one of the tactics being utilized by the Egyptian judiciary to perpetuate this injustice is that of delay. What reason could justify the continual postponement of the determination of the rights of these children? There are no new factual issues arising, no new legal developments affecting the court’s deliberations. The fact is that every day that the decision is delayed is a day that these chilren continue to be denied access to public school due to their lack of birth certificates.

The Egyptian court would do well to review Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, which states:

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

This, taken in conjuction with Article 18 of the Egyptian Constitution, which provides that “education is a right guaranteed by the state” leads one to the inevitable conclusion that these children are entitled to an effective remedy by the Egyptian court. These continued delays are an affront not only to the children involved, but also to the dignity of the Egyptian judiciary. Let us hope that the court will rise to the level of performing the function of a competent national tribunal.


Upcoming Court Hearing on the Rights of Egyptian Children

swtalomanewspaper23-4-2007e_n.jpgAs covered extensively on the blog, Baha’i Faith in Egypt, on July 3, the Administrative Court of Egypt will hold a hearing on the ability of two Egyptian Baha’i children, Emad and Nancy, to obtain birth certificates. To date, these children, who are 14-year-old twin siblings, have not been able to obtain birth certificates solely because of their family’s religious affiliation; without birth certificates, they are unable to attend public schools.

Several legal principles are at issue here. At the international level, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory, states in Article 15 that “everyone has a right to a nationality.” Moreover, Article 2 provides that this right is guaranteed irrespective of one’s religious belief. The denial of birth certificates to these children, solely on the basis of their family’s religious affiliation, effectively denies them of their Egyptian citizenship and nationality, and the rights that accompany it, all in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

One of the internationally-recognized human rights that these children are being denied because they cannot obtain birth certificates is the right of access to public education. More specifically, Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that “everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.” Without their birth certificates, Emad and Nancy are unable to attend public school, thus depriving them of a right that is clearly guaranteed to them through Egypt’s ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The enlightened principles regarding education contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are directly echoed in Egypt’s own Constitution, Article 18 of which states: “Education is a right guaranteed by the State.” More generally, Egypt’s Constitutional Proclamation states:

The dignity of every individual is a natural reflection of the dignity of his nation, for each individual is a cornerstone in the edifice of the homeland. This homeland derives its strength and prestige from the value of each individual, his activity and dignity.

Emad and Nancy were born and raised in Egypt. Their parents and grandparents are Egyptian. What clearer example of a cornerstone of the edifice of the homeland could there be? What effect might the erosion of this cornerstone, through the denial of access to basic rights of citizenship, including education, have on the development and ultimate dignity, strength, and prestige of Egyptian society? Let us hope that the Egyptian Court rectifies this injustice on July 3.

Egypt’s Constitutional Proclamation: Ideals to Strive For

Previous posts on this blog, examining the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court of Egypt to deny the Baha’is of Egypt access to identification cards, have focused on how this action is a gross violation of Egypt’s obligations under international declarations and covenants to which it is a signatory, and how the reasoning of the Court totally obscured the actual issue that was before it. In addition, the Court’s decision is incompatible with the lofty principles enunciated in Egypt’s own Constitution, the seminal legal document upon which the laws of Egypt are founded and to which the Court’s legal analysis is bound.

The Egyptian Constitution begins with a Constitutional Proclamation, setting forth the principles upon which the rest of the Constitution is based. In the Constitutional Proclamation, we find the following:

We, the Egyptian people, in the name of God and with His assistance pledge to indefinitely and unconditionally exert every effort to realise:

Peace to our world:
Being determined that peace can only be based on justice and that political and social progress of all peoples can only be realized through the freedom and independent will of these peoples, and that any civilization is not worthy of its name unless it is free from exploitation whatever its form. (emphasis added)

These words provide much food for thought concerning the decision of the Court to deny the Baha’is of Egypt access to national identification cards–preventing them from gaining access to health care, employment, and education, among other basic civil rights–solely on the basis of their religious belief. The proclamation asserts that “social progress of all peoples can only be realized through the freedom and independent will of these peoples.” Where is the freedom and independent will in forcing citizens of Egypt to identify themselves as members of one of only three religions–Christianity, Judaism, or Islam–in order to obtain identification cards? What effect might this have on the “social progress of all peoples?”

Moreover, consider the statement that “any civilization is not worthy of its name unless it is free from exploitation whatever its form.” Exploitation is commonly defined as using someone else unfairly to your own advantage, but, as the Proclamation states, it can take many forms, all of which are pernicious. One example of the exploitation that the Baha’is of Egypt face, pointed out recently on Bilo’s blog, is that despite the fact that the Egyptian Baha’is are being denied access to basic civil rights on account of their religious belief, they are still required to pay taxes to the government of Egypt. As one commentator put it, the Egyptian Baha’is have been rendered faithless and stateless, and yet the government is still trying to wring a few last drops of pecuniary benefit out of them.

As the Proclamation rightly points out, to be worthy of classification as a civilization, the Egyptian government must rise to abolish this exploitation, which it could do with minimal effort, by allowing Egyptian Baha’is to place a “dash” in the religion field of their identication card paperwork. Thus would the actions of the Egyptian government be increasingly harmonized with the clear principles upon which its own Constitution is founded.