Journalist launches fierce attack against Baha'i 'traitors'

The following video shows a journalist hurling death threats at Baha'i followers on an Egyptian talk show. Three days after the programme was aired, the homes of several Baha'i families in a rural village were burned down.

The Baha'i faith, conceived in the 19th century, rests its morals on the unity of god, religion and humanity. There's a large following in Iran and almost 2,000 Baha'is in Egypt, according to the US government's International Religious Freedom report of 2007. Although the religion was recognized in Egypt in 1930, the Baha'is were stripped of the right to practice their beliefs in 1960 when president Gamal Abdel Nasser declared the recognition of only Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

In 2006 the Supreme Court went a step further by insisting that they chose one of these three as their religion; if not, they were not officially recognized by the state. Last month however, on 16 March 2009, the court changed tack by ruling that citizens would be allowed to enter two dashes in place of religion - not the change that the Baha'i community hoped for, but an improvement nonetheless.


Extract of the heated debate

Subtitles by France 24.

In light of Newruz, the Persian New Year which is celebrated by Egypt's Baha'i community, TV channel Dream2 addressed the subject of the faith on its "al-Haqiqa" (The Truth) show. This debate, recorded on 28 March, is the result. The show is hosted by presenter Wael El-Ibrachi, the guests: a Baha'i follower, Basma Moussa (the woman), a farmer from the Baha'I village of Shoraniyyah (unseen in this extract), and journalist Gamal Abdel-Rahim. It was a few minutes before the end of the show that the debate turned sour.

Basma Moussa filed a complaint over the threats, for which Gamal Abdel-Rahim has since been questioned by the police.

Baha'i villagers attacked

Posted on YouTube by "mohsmedkhattab2004".

Three days after the incident, hundreds of residents from the village of Shoraniyyah, (345km south of Cairo, Sohag province), launched a violent offensive against the local Baha'i community, targeting five homes. The gang hurled Molotov cocktails at the houses, cutting off the water supply beforehand in order to prevent rescue attempts. Several Baha'i families from the village fled, under escort by the police.

Various Baha'i sites have posted mobile phone-filmed footage of, amongst others, the incident in Shoraniyyah. In the background of this video you can hear one of the attackers shouting "the police are coming!".


Shocked but hopeful

I would like to thank you for bringing the plight of a minority community , in this case the Bahais . we are living in the information age where the playing field is leveled through transport and communication , The advent of these technologies have helped in eradication of Racism in the US [to an extent] and caste system in India [to an extent] but we still see so much hatred and Ignorance in so many parts of the world aka Egypt.

As a Baha'i myself from India , I can only express my disgust at the outrage of the so called Journalist towards a fellow believer from Egypt. The title of you article is misleading , frankly anyone who calls for a open murder in the mass media is not even a human being then how can he be called a "Journalist" , is it an ethical of a "Journalist" to call for an open assassination , the person clearly manifested a sub human nature that was transmitted and led to the torching of the houses of the Bahai's.

Regarding the phrase "Baha'i traitors" , I need to know how can you use the abusive language spurred by the so called "Journalist" as the title of your article, please investigate about the Baha'i faith before using some one else's words. The Bahai's believe in Oneness of God, oneness of Man and the oneness of all the Religions which are progressive . Bahais believe in the Harmony of science and religion while upholding the equality of the sexes, more than all this , you choose a word ['Bahai traitor'] used by the Racist Journalist calling for murder to describe the Bahais ??!!.

Please reconsider the title of the article.


RE: title of the post

Dear Praveen,

Thank you for your comment. Just to clarify that by quoting Abdel-Rahim in our title we are in no way expressing that we share his sentiments. That's why we put quotation marks around the word 'traitors'. We chose that title to illustrate the story (which is afterall about Abdel-Rahim insulting the Baha'i community).

Please don't take offense to the title - we are simply highlighting the story itself.


Sophie Team Observers

Shocked but hopeful

Thank you for the response ,

Just wanted to express that Abdel-Rahim is not a Journalist and Bahais are not Traitors , Everyone has the right to make any claims but discretion must be used when the claims are to be published as Headlines as it may create impressions. I am also concerned about the role of Media in promoting discourses in the society , media can be used either ways like the above example to incite hatred and prejudice .

The headline that you have used is very similar to the articles published by Kayhan [Iranian Newspaper controlled by the Iranian interior ministry] where by suffixing words like murderers/Traitors/Infidels to the "Bahai" in the articles published regularly , thereby creating an impression of the Largest minority community in Iran [The Bahai's].

Appreciate your exposure on this issue.