Egypt MP proposes removing religious identification from national IDs

Egyptian member of parliament Ismail Nasr El-Din announced on Sunday that he intends to present a draft bill to the House of Representatives to remove religious identification from national IDs and official state documents.

Egypt’s national IDs, which every citizen must carry at all times, contain basic information about individuals including age, occupation, place of residence, marital status and religious affiliation.

The MP said that if Egyptians truly seek a civil state that upholds the values of citizenship, then they should start with official state documents, and that all Egyptians have the same rights and duties according to the constitution.

“Just as the ‘divorced’ field was removed from the national ID, we should remove the ‘religion’ field,” he added in his statement.

“President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi spoke in front of the whole world last week about freedom of belief and the right of every citizen to freedom of worship,” Nasr El-Din said, referring to statements the president made at the World Youth Forum 2018 last week.

“This is a clear message from the president of the nation and we, as a legislative body, must convert what the president said into facts on the ground,” Nasr El-Din said.

The president had also stressed the importance of reforming religious discourse, and asserted that “we do not discriminate based on religion or whether a person is Muslim or Christian.”

Nasr El-Din said “I will be keen to collect the signatures of every MP to endorse the draft bill.”

This is not the first attempt to pass a draft law to remove religious identification from the national ID.

In June 2016, MP Alaa Abdel-Moneim presented a similar draft bill called dubbed ‘Citizenship’ to the House of Representatives, but the draft bill failed to go forward.

According to Article 53 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution, citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, sex, origin, race, colour, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason.

The article states that discrimination and incitement to hate are “crimes punishable by law.”

Al Ahram

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