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Viewing cable 09CAIRO1495, EGYPT'S BAHA'I FRUSTRATED WITH LACK OF PROGRESS ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO1495 2009-08-03 13:01 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO3310
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1495 2151341
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031341Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3326
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 001495 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DRL/IRF FOR COFSKY 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/02/2029 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KIRF EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT'S BAHA'I FRUSTRATED WITH LACK OF PROGRESS ON 
IDENTITY CARDS 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 887 
     B. CAIRO 688 C. CAIRO 453 Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for reason 1.4 (d).
1. KEY POINTS -- (C) During a July 28 meeting, leaders of Egypt's Baha'i community reported no progress in obtaining government identification documents. -- (C) According to the Baha'i, following the April 15 issuance by the MoI of a decree establishing procedures for members of "unrecognized" religions to obtain identity documents, 150 to 160 Baha'i applied for either national ID cards or birth certificates. -- (C) Despite the GOE's failure to solve the identification document issue, the Baha'is reported no interference with the practice of their religion.

2. (C) Comment: The Baha'i were euphoric in April when the MoI issued a decree outlining identification document procedures for Baha'i and other "unrecognized" religious groups. They are now frustrated by the lack of concrete progress and urge continued U.S. Government engagement on the issue. We regularly raise the Baha'i identification document issue with our GoE interlocutors and will continue to do so.

3. (C) We met recently with a number of Baha'i community leaders, including Raouf Hindy who appears regularly on Egyptian television to advocate for Baha'i rights, and XXXXXXXXXXXX, who maintains ties with the international Baha'i community. According to the Baha'i, they are frustrated that despite a positive court ruling in March (ref C) and the Ministry of Interior's issuance in April of regulations establishing procedures for members of unrecognized religions to obtain identity documents (ref B), to date, the GoE has issued only two birth certificates. Both were issued to plaintiffs in successful litigation brought by the Baha'is against the GOE (ref A).

4. (C) According to the Baha'i, as of late July, between 150 and 160 community members have applied for either birth certificates or identification cards. While the Ministry of Interior Civil Status Division politely receives the applications, officials ask the Baha'i for additional supporting documents or urge patience. Raouf Hindy told us he is in regular contact with Alaa Matwali, the Director of the MoI Civil Registry Department's Office of Legal Affairs. Hindy said Matwali appears committed to resolving the issue, but repeatedly asserts that the MoI needs additional time.

5. (C) Despite the lack of progress on the document issue, the Baha'i reported that they are generally able to practice their religion freely and reported no recent GoE or societal interference in their communal celebrations. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, local police, because of the publicity surrounding the identification card issue, are generally understanding when they encounter a Baha'i without an identification document and "do not cause problems." SCOBEY