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
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!".