Break The Religious Handcuffs
This will sound weird to 'foreigners', perfectly normal to Egyptians, and outrageous to Human Rights Activists. On the back of the Egyptian National ID card ,that every citizen has, there are 4 pieces of personal information. Occupation, Sex, religion, and martial status. Having the first and last one on ID cards, my guess is, is not that common and is probably debatable. The second one is pretty standard. But it's the third one that's troubling me. I can imagine a lot of non-Egyptians right now going "holy crap (no pun intended!), religion is on your ID cards?"
Here is why I think religion should not be on Egyptian ID cards.
First of all, if my card says I'm Muslim, for example, does that mean I'm Muslim? Do letters printed and glossed on a piece of paper saying 'Christian' really mean that I am Christian? No and no. What a person believes in and who they worship cannot be decided by a government paper. A person is a Muslim or a Christian by what's in their head, what's in their heart, and the actions they take. Nobody can tell us what we believe in except ourselves.
My second problem has to do with the nature of religion. One’s religion is neither an eye colour nor a blood type. It's neither an ethnicity nor a fingerprint. Religion is not a gene that we are born with. It is something that we choose. We should have the freedom to choose whatever we want to believe in. I should have the freedom to be a Muslim one day, a Christian the next day, a Buddhist the day after, and so forth without constantly changing government papers. It's not a sex-change operation! After all, isn't it expected that our beliefs change based on what we experience in life? Do I have to change my ID every time I have doubts about my religion or completely reject it?
Thirdly, as far as I know, the government allows you only to be one of three: Muslim, Christian, or Jew (yes you can be a Jew!). The Egyptian government doesn’t let you believe in anything else. How narrow minded is that? Are there are no other belief systems? No Buddhism, no Hinduism? No atheism, no agnosticism? Where is the Freedom of choice?
Fourthly, there is the issue of discrimination. I don't think I need to elaborate more here, but I will anyway. Having religion on ID cards makes it incredibly easy to discriminate between Egyptians. Imagine how the treatment of the police, university professeurs, and employers could vary depending on whether or not you agree with what they believe in! There is no doubt minorities suffer as a result of this. Even though removing religion from government papers is not likely to stop discrimination, but at least it won't be as ridiclously easy as it is now.
Start with Freedom...
P.S. related post: When You Build A Bridge