Despite Court Victory, Egypt's Bahais Face Challenges


Copy of Labib Iskandar's ID card, pictured May 18, 2006. Iskandar is an Egyptian Bahai.

Earlier this year, residents of a small town in Egypt burned down four homes that belonged to followers of the Bahai faith. Last month, demonstrations greeted plans to relocate them. Despite gains made by Bahais in a recent court ruling to grant them rights on government identification cards, this small community of Egyptian Bahais is in a greater battle for community acceptance.

While it has never been illegal to be a Bahai in Egypt, it has never been easy. Amm Ahmed, his wife and their six children fled their hometown of Suhag in southern Egypt after hate crimes against them became too much.

Amm Ahmed meets me in a private residence on the outskirts of Cairo away from the public eye and security officials.

It is here, in the privacy of this apartment, that Amm Ahmed can practice his faith. A tall, sturdy man dressed in a traditional Egyptian gallabiya and turban, he reads verses from the Bahai holy book as the Muslim call to evening prayer rings out in the background.

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