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July 15, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2441

Egyptian Baha'is' Struggle for Recognition Encounters Incitement to Violence by Islamists

July 15, 2009
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 2441

Following are excerpts from TV debates on Baha'is in Egypt. The debates aired on Dream 2 TV in 2006 and in 2008:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2112.

May 20, 2006

Former Al-Azhar President: "The Imam Who Converted [People] to the Baha'i Faith Should Have Been Killed"

[...] Presenter: "We have with us the MP who demanded that Baha'is be killed, Sheikh Maher 'Aql. Welcome, Sheikh Maher."

Sheikh Maher 'Aql: "Hello."

Presenter: "Still determined about killing the Baha'is?"

Sheikh Maher 'Aql: "Allah willing." [...]

Islamist lawyer Ahmad Dhiya Al-Din: "It is just like in the case of bird flu. Then, the solution was a thorough one - the birds were taken and put to death. We do not kill human beings." [...]

Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheikh, former president of Al-AzharUniversity: "The religious law you accepted - where did it come from?"

Sahar Jalal, Baha'i: "It came through Bahaullah, Mirza Hussein Ali."

Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheikh: "Is this Mirza a god or a human?"

Sahar Jalal: "He is God's face on earth. God bestowed His light upon this man. God chooses righteous people..."

Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheikh: "Why Mirza? Why didn't He choose a name like 'Wael' or 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheikh'? Why Mirza?"

Sahar Jalal: "Because he's from Iran, and there, his name is Mirza..."

Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheikh: "Great, he's from Iran. How come Iran gets to have God's face chosen from it? How come he wasn't chosen from an Arab Muslim country?"

Sahar Jalal: "That's up to God. It's not our place to ask why." [...]

Sheikh Maher 'Aql: "The Imam who converted [people] to the Bahai faith should have been killed."

Sahar Jalal: "Why?"

Sheikh Maher 'Aql: "Because the Prophet Muhammad said: 'He who changes his religion - kill him.'" [...]

October 14, 2008

Former Al-Azhar Deputy Rector: "After Muhammad, There Can Be No Other Religion Whatsoever"

Dr. Rauf Hindi, Baha'i: "The Baha'i faith is one of the 'heavenly religions,' and it shares their call for monotheism. However, it is an independent religion with its own holy books and rites, and its own rules regarding fasting and praying." [...]

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur, former deputy rector of Al-AzharUniversity: "The truth is that after Muhammad, there can be no other religion whatsoever. Allah said: 'Muhammad was not the father of any man among you. He was the messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets. Allah is Omniscient.' After the messenger of Allah, any person who claims he was sent by God is lying."

Interviewer: "What you are saying is that every citizen has the right to choose one of the religions recognized in the monotheistic holy books."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "A religion conveyed by Allah. Allah conveyed three religions, which we recognize: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."

Interviewer: "What about the freedom to believe in another religion, which contradicts the recognized religions?"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "There are man-made religions, such as Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, cow worship... All this exists..."

Interviewer: "And they are recognized?"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "Of course not. These religions are not recognized because they are not religions at all."

Interviewer: "So what are they?"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "The result of human thought."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Bahaullah is the founder of the Bahai religion."

Interviewer: "So he's the messenger of God?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Yes. He was chosen by God. Just like Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses were chosen, as well as all the prophets and messengers who preceded them, Bahaullah was chosen by God as a bearer of good news and warnings to humanity. He began his preaching in Tehran in 1853."

Interviewer: "What proof do you have that Bahaullah was chosen by God?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "And what proof do you have that Muhammad was chosen by Allah?"

Interviewer: "Honorable Sheikh..."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "Our proof is the Koran, the hadiths of the messenger of Allah, and the belief of the entire world. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. I'd like to know how many Baha'is there are." [...]

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Islam, Christianity, and Judaism constitute no more than 49% of the believers in the world. The world is full of religions..."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "These are man-made religions and not 'heavenly religions.'"

Dr. Hindi, Baha'i: "Our Society Needs a Culture of Accepting the 'Other' - Not of Killing Him"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "You have no right to pass judgment on others. Who authorized you to do so?"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "My authority stems from my studies, my religion, and my faith..."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Don't forget that the people who didn't believe in Jesus were Ananias and Caiaphas, who were the greatest religious scholars of their time. The people who didn't believe in the Prophet Muhammad were also the scholars of his time. Who authorized you?"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "They were pre-Islamic ignoramuses, not religious scholars."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "We need to have a culture of accepting and respecting the 'other' the way he is - rather than accepting some "other" that you created according to your mood. Our society needs a culture of accepting the 'other,' not of killing him."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "Any 'other' who believes in God and whose message was conveyed by Him - I respect, honor, and esteem that other.' As for an impostor who makes false assertions, and whose religion is not a true religion, but rather, is a fraudulent claim - I say 'No' to him." [...]

Former Al-Azhar Deputy Rector: "[Bahaullah] Was the Puppet of Global Zionism... Steered by the Jews"

"[Bahaullah] was the puppet of global Zionism. He was steered by the Jews, who embraced him and made him what he was."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Because our holy places are located in Haifa and Acre, they sometimes accuse us of [supporting Israel]." [...]

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "Look, all the prophets talked about [future] prophets. Moses prophesied the appearance of Jesus, and Jesus prophesied the appearance of Muhammad. Nobody prophesied the appearance of Bahaullah..."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Perhaps you don't know..."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "I do know. How can you say I don't?

[...]

"Who prophesied the appearance of Baha'ullah?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "The holy books of all monotheistic religions prophesied his appearance.

Interviewer: "Hold on, this is important. He says that all the holy books prophesied the appearance of Bahaullah."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "What books?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "The New Testament, the Koran, and the Torah."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "None of them prophesied this."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "That's your own view."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "My own view?! The Koran is what I do..."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Muna, you should be sitting in his place..."

Interviewer (Muna): "No, no. Let me tell you something. The Koran of the Muslims - if I had seen the name of Bahaullah there, I would have asked the sheikh tough questions."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "If I were a Christian and I saw the name Muhammad in the New Testament, I would convert to Islam."

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "The name appears there."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Muhammad?! Bring a copy of the New Testament, people..." [...]

October 20, 2008

Interviewer: "If Your Son Told You He Wanted to Leave the Baha'i Religion, Would You Say To Him: 'Fine, If You Believe In This'... If You Asked Me, I Would Have Said That I Would Slaughter Him"

"The principles of Islamic law allow pluralism. Dar Al-Islam is broad enough to include both Muslims and non-Muslims, but..."

Interviewer: "Within the confines of the religions recognized by the Koran!"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Fine. There is room for all religions and human beings. Don't limit..."

Interviewer: "What do you mean?! Along you come with a new religion. After the Koran told us that there are only three religions, you come with a new religion, and expect the state to recognize it?!"

Sheikh Mahmoud 'Ashur: "What if the devil worshippers were to say that they have a new religion..."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Devil worshippers, cockroach worshippers, and worshippers of flies have nothing to do with us. Our religion is recognized in 235 countries and districts in the world."

[...]

Egyptian Coptic cleric Abd Al-Masih Basit: "Baha'i is a mixture of three things. It mixes Christian thought, Islamic thought, and the Buddhist religion, and before that, Hinduism. This is a mixture of four religions. They believe mainly in Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and Krishna. It is a mixture of religions.

[...]

"I consider the Baha'i belief to be an ideology and not a religion, but I do not call for it to be banned. On the contrary, I support its right to exist."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "Thank you."

[...]

Interviewer: "If your son told you that he wanted to leave Christianity and become a Baha'i, what would be your response?"

Abd Al-Masih Basit: "I would do my best to convince him otherwise, but if I failed, I would not be able to do anything."

Interviewer: "What about you? If your Baha'i son wanted to leave the Baha'i religion, and become a Christian what would you do?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "The Baha'i religion is not bequeathed from father to son."

Interviewer: "What do you mean by that?"

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "I have a 21-year-old-son. The moment he reaches the age of 21, he has absolute freedom of belief..."

Interviewer: "This is TV talk. If your son told you he wanted to leave the Baha'i religion, would you say to him: 'Fine, if you believe in this,' and whatever... If you asked me, I would have said that I would slaughter him."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "You would slaughter him, but I wouldn’t."

Interviewer: "You need to talk in a language people understand."

Dr. Rauf Hindi: "I'm using educational language. 'It has been forbidden to bear arms.' This is our religion."

Interviewer: "You think I would really grab a knife and slaughter him? This is just a figure of speech, but I would reproach him - how dare he change his religion!" [...]

Al-Azhar Dept. of Religions Head: If Every Group in Egypt Could Have Their Religion in their I.D. Cards - "Homosexuals Would be Able To Register Themselves as 'Homosexual'"

Abdallah Ali Samak, head of the Department of Religions at Al-Azhar University: "If every group of 2,000-3,000 Egyptians were able to register their religion in their I.D. cards - the homosexuals would be able to register themselves as 'homosexual,' and to register their heresy. Anybody who believes in anything would be allowed to register it."

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