Next Sunday, January 16th 2011, is the 3rd Sunday of January and that means that it will be celebrated worldwide as “World Religion Day” by Baha’i communities around the world.
The observance of WRD began in 1950 when a few weeks earlier in December 1949, the NSA of the Baha’is of the United States issued a simple proclamation:
The National Spritiual Assembly has instituted an annual World Religion Day to be observed publicly by the Baha’i communities whenever possible throughout the United States.
So look for events in your local community.
But the Egyptians honored the spirit of World Religion Day a bit early this year.
The Coptic Orthodox Christian church and believers in Egypt have always had a very uneasy and difficult time in Egypt. They have suffered major discrimination and even violence on a regular basis. Last week on New Year’s Eve, they suffered an especially painful attack when a suicide bomber detonated at Saints Church in Alexandria and killed 21 people.
The Muslim community of Egypt responded to a call by prominent liberal minded Egyptian muslims such as Mohamed El-Sawy to rally in support of the beleaguered minority and hold candle light vigils around Coptic churches this Friday during their mass.
In this way, the Muslims proclaimed their solidarity with their Christian brethren and faced terrorism head on, declaring that the attack was not just against the Copts but on Egypt itself. For more, see this article from ahram online.
Of course, as with all extremists, there is more than enough discrimination and violence to go around. The Baha’i community in Egypt has also been battling a very difficult problem for many years. The Baha’is are not only faced with the same discrimination but an even thornier issue.
This being that the Egyptian government would not issue proper government documents to Baha’is because it did not recognize the Baha’i Faith as a religion. This lead to a host of complications for Egyptian Baha’is. There has been some slight shifts in the policy but it is far from resolved. For more details and to keep up with back story and developments, visit the Baha’i Faith in Egypt blog.
To give you an example of the type of froward attitudes faced by Baha’is in Egypt, here is a sample of several clips from Egyptian TV with English subtitles:
The first few minutes of the video features Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sheik, the former president of Al-Azhar. Yes, that Al-Azhar…