An Egyptian MP is proposing a new civil rights law that will abolish the necessity of stating an Egyptian citizen's religion on her or his national ID card, as well as all official identity documents.
On Wednesday, Alaa Abd El-Moneim, who is the spokesperson for the Egyptian parliamentary coalition "Support Egypt," presented the proposal that aims to use legislative authority to prevent all forms of discrimination in Egyptian society, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm .
Moneim argued that there is no practical reason for stating an Egyptian citizen's religion in the public sphere. He said that religious affiliation should only be disclosed when legal consequences are involved, such as in the cases of making arrangements for marriage and inheritance.
He added that equality and non-discrimination are two of the main foundations of the rule of law, and that all organizations, whether public or private, should be held accountable for any breaches of those principles. He considers mandating the disclosure of religion in official identity documents to be such a breach.
The legislative proposal, titled "Citizenship and Non-Discrimination," includes an article that bans state bodies, public and private sector organizations and civil society organizations from discriminating against Egyptian citizens in employment on the basis of religion, gender, social class or race.
It also included articles that ban the formation of any organizations or bodies that differentiate between Egyptian citizens or seek to threaten civil unity and undermine the role of citizenship as the basis of society. It further bans the press and broadcast media outlets from publishing or airing content with the same intentions.
In addition, the proposal included an article that obligates the Egyptian state to facilitate the construction and restoration of all houses of worship for the three monotheistic religions on a regular basis.
Moneim suggested that jail sentences be enforced on any individual or organization that fails to abide by any of these proposed regulations, and that an anti-discrimination committee be set up for citizens to report all forms of discrimination.
The Egyptian MP stressed that the core value the proposal is based on is that faith is a private matter that only concerns the individual and that it is unacceptable to violate a citizen's right to choose their faith or change it.
The mandatory disclosure of religious affiliation in official identity documents in Egypt has caused controversy over the years, as individuals who didn't identity with Islam, Christianity or Judaism used to have trouble obtaining an ID card, which is necessary for all citizenship activities.
Moreover, various political and non-political initiatives have called for the abolition of the mandatory disclosure in the past few years, arguing that it is unconstitutional given that the Egyptian constitution prohibits all forms of religious discrimination.