Skip to main content

Egypt looks to remove religion from ID cards — but is it too little, too late?

A proposed bill to remove religious status from national ID cards is welcomed by activists, but they say much more needs to be done to counter the discrimination and unprecedented levels of persecution suffered by Egypt's religious minorities.
A woman with her ID arrives at a polling station to vote during the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Bani Sweif, about 115 km (71 miles) south of Cairo December 22, 2012. Queues formed at some polling stations around the country and voting was extended by four hours to 11 p.m. (2100 GMT). Last week's first round of voting, which an opposition leader said was marred by "serious violations", gave a 57 percent vote in favour of the constitution, according to unofficial figures. REUTER
Read in 

Legislator Ismail Nasreddin has announced plans to submit a bill to Egypt's parliament that would remove religious affiliation from national ID cards. The move paves the way for a civil state that respects the values of citizenship, Egyptian media quoted Nasreddin as saying. While the national charter recognizes the three "heavenly religions" and guarantees freedom of belief and worship for all citizens, Article 2 of the constitution declares Islam the official religion and states that "the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation."

The time is ripe for elimination of all forms of religious discrimination, Nasreddin said, adding that he took a cue for his action from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's comments on citizenship rights at the recent World Youth Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh. Painting an idealistic picture of religious tolerance and diversity, Sisi told the youth participants that "every citizen has the right to worship as he or she pleases and the right not to worship at all."

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.