Baha’is

The Baha’i religion has been subject to scrutiny and rejection from mainstream Sunni Muslim scholars, and members of the group have historically been persecuted. Baha’i beliefs, particularly that Divine message never stopped, counter the mainstream Muslim view that Muhammad is the last prophet and have raised a number of objections against the group. The religion’s connection with pilgrimage site in the state of Israel has been a main motivator for discrimination against Baha’is. For these reasons, Bahai’s were never officially recognized under former Egyptian regimes. According to press reports, the last official count of 1950 estimated the community at 5000 members.

Hafez Abu Se’da, Secretary General of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, and member of the National Council for Human Rights, said that since Baha’is make their pilgrimage to Haifa, this opens the door for going back and forth between Egypt and Israel, which created worries from the side of the security services who were at a state of war with Israel during the 1950s and 1960s. There have also been charges that Baha’is support Zionism. On the other hand, Dr. Raouf Hindy Halim, representative of the Baha’i community in Egypt, denied that any Egyptian Baha’i has travelled to pilgrimage in Israel.

Al-Azhar’s position is that Baha’ism is not recognized by Muslims. Despite the outright antagonism from the part of Al-Azhar toward the Baha’i faith, the Baha’i community welcomed the invitation by Al-Azhar for a representative from the community to attend the Obama speech in Cairo University in 2009. Raouf Hindy Halim said that this invitation represents the beginning of Al-Azhar’s recognition of Baha’ism as a faith.

The political relations between Baha’is and other groups after the revolution remains to be seen. When asked about whether Baha’is and secular individuals could join the Freedom and Justice Party, Ahmed Diab, head of the Brotherhood political section, replied in a press release on April 4, 2011 that the party has set conditions for membership based on an Islamic frame of reference, and that anyone who agreed with the conditions would be welcome.  The statement of the Freedom and Justice Party did not specifically outline the party’s policy on relations Baha’i community, and whether the party would support the social, legal, religious, and political rights of the community. Activism continues on the part of Baha’is to gain full rights.

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