Official admits that Bahais face major obstacles enrolling in 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.

Bahais have faced longstanding discrimination from the Egyptian government. In 1960, the government confiscated their assets and property after accusing the community of loyalty to Israel. The religion's main house of worship is located in Haifa. The community says that some Bahais were detained for six months after the 1967 war.

Since then, Bahais have fought to be able to obtain official government ID cards. The documents indicate the bearer's religion and are required for any formal transaction, such as applying for birth certificates and driver's licenses or opening bank accounts.

In 2008, an Egyptian court granted Bahais the right to obtain ID cards that did not mention their religion.

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