Elliott Abrams

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The Baha’i in Egypt and Egypt’s Future

by Elliott Abrams
February 20, 2012


The Baha’i have long been under attack in Iran, as I have discussed on this blog. They have also faced a history of persecution in Egypt, under the Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak regimes. The Muslim Brotherhood as well has long viewed the Baha’i as heretics who should not receive legal protections.

Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, a Salafi leader in Alexandria, last month threatened publicly that “We will prosecute the Bahai’s on charge of treason. We as Salafis refuse to deal with Baha’is, because they do not exist by virtue of their faith.” While Shahat is an extremist and failed to win a seat in parliament, he remains a leader of the Salafist Nour Party and one of its spokesmen. He urged that Egypt’s new constitution not protect the rights of Baha’i on the grounds that they do not belong to a recognized religion.

The situation of the Baha’i constitutes a test for the new “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood leadership and for Egypt’s new government. There are no more than 2,000 Baha’i there, so they are without political influence and lack the numbers to even attempt to protect themselves–unlike Coptic Christians, who in Egypt number perhaps ten million. If the Brotherhood and the Salafis pursue this tiny community, we will be forced to conclude that hopes for Egypt must be scaled far back. It is worth adding that defense of the Baha’i is also a test for the millions of non-Salafist, non-Brotherhood Egyptian organizations and for Egyptian leaders and would-be leaders–starting with the influential Egyptian Judges Club, for example, and with Amre Moussa, former Arab League Secretary General and the leading presidential candidate. Perhaps even more than the treatment of American and other pro-democracy NGOs, the Baha’i are the proverbial canary in the coal mine when it comes to judging whether Egypt will move toward respect for human rights, protection of minorities, and a state based on law.

Post a Comment 9 Comments

  • Posted by Roei

    It’s worth adding that another Baha’i community, in a close vicinity to Egypt, is living peacefully, their equal-rights protected by law. That would be the Baha’i community in Israel, which is widely accepted and integrated into society.

    See – http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/haifa-bahai-shrine

  • Posted by what is "occupation"

    Say goodbye to Egypt..

    It ‘s just a matter of when not if.

  • Posted by Yechiel

    Dear Friends;
    TheWest is slow, or ineffective in protecting it’s fellow CHristians in the Middle East. I do not expect them to do more than mouth empty words about the human beings who are Baha’i.
    Isreal takes in more than it can help, unassisted, and stil may go to their rescue, if needed.
    The world shall have violance as long as decent humans refuse to do their job.
    Yechiel Shlipsho

  • Posted by Dalton Garis

    “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whosoever disbelieves in false ideologies, and believes in God, then he has grasped the Sure Handle that will never break. And God is All-Hearer, All Knower” (2 Al Baqarah:256)

    “And the Messenger will say, ‘My Lord, verily My people have deserted this Qur’an’ ” (Qur’an 25 Al Furqan:30).

    “O the misery of men! Never there was sent to them a Messenger but they laughed Him to scorn (36 Ya-Sin:30).

  • Posted by Leonard Limpus

    The attitude of the Salafis to the Bahais does no harm to the Bahai Faith, but unfortunately does a disservice to the reputation of Islam. However, I note that the Salafis do not speak for all Muslims. The Salafis attitude is also a great boost to atheism and irreligion, people who love God no matter what their religon should reflect on this for the sake of all that is good and decent in all religions. Muslims shoot treat Bahais exactly in the way they would want to be treated by Christians.

  • Posted by Leoanrd Limpus

    erratum above…last sentence should read:”should”treat Bahais exactly in the way they would want to be treated by Christians. Many Christians believe Islam is a heresy, but does that give them the right to deny recognition to Muslims as having their own religion and denying basic religious freedom? Likewise the situation between Islam and Bahai. I note that their are many Muslims who already view this situation as I do.

  • Posted by Ahmad

    I am a muslim and I think Bahai is not a religion I am ready to
    prove it you could see and ask your questions in http://www.1844event.com.

  • Posted by Chris

    There are about 7 million baha’is in the world practicing this faith, their mission/goal is unity of mankind by elimination of all sorts of prejudice among other wonderful principles. They are amongst the most educated and successful people in the world. Be just and study books written by the figures of the Baha’i faith as well.

  • Posted by danieldemol

    Hi Ahmad,

    There is nothing on your website which proofs that the Baha’i faith is not a religion.

    We need to start out with an objective definition of what constitutes a religion.

    The Oxford Dictionary of English describes a religion as “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power”.

    One of the Baha’i prayers which Baha’is say every day states;

    “I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.
    I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
    There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.”

    So you see there is no reasonable doubt that the Baha’i Faith is a religion.

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