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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Egypt’s Constitution May Prevent Bahais from Enrolling in Public Schools


Guest post by Challah Hu Akbar, aka CHA or Challah

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CHALLAH @ Egypt Independent
The education minister has repeated remarks that Bahais cannot enroll in public schools, saying it violates the Constitution. “The Constitution only recognizes the three Abrahamic religions,” Ibrahim Ghoneim told Akbar Al-Youm newspaper Saturday. “And as religion is a subject taught in schools, they do not meet the requirements for enrollment.” 
Ghoneim had told Al-Sabah newspaper the same statement in November, when he was asked, “What is the position of the ministry concerning the children of Bahais? Do they have the right to enroll in a [ministry-affiliated] school?” The minister responded by saying, “The state only recognizes three religions, and the Bahai faith is not among them. Thus their children do not have the right to register in government schools.”
An Egyptian official admitted on Monday that Bahai children will face major problems enrolling in state-run schools as a result of the new Constitution. Mohamed al-Sorougy, the Education Minister's media adviser, told Ona news agency that Egyptian Bahais will face problems enrolling because the new Constitution only recognizes three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. 
Sorougy didn’t confirm or deny statements by Education Minister Ibrahim Ghoneim saying that Bahais are forbidden from enrolling in public schools because of the Constitution. He said, however, that 2 million children enroll annually in the schools and that creating a problem for a few of them is not right. 
The problems facing Bahai children are further complicated by Article 60 of the new Constitution, which mandates religious education in state schools. Muslims and Christians study their own religions, but the government is unsure how to offer Bahais religious instruction if they enroll in schools.