How would you feel if you were not a citizen of any country, or considered taboo in society? Having no identity, you would not have any rights. You would not be able to get a national identification card, a birth, marriage or even a death certificate. Because, officially, you would not exist. Nobody would ‘see’ you or talk about you. You would become a living ghost.
For more than 2000 Baha’is living in Egypt, the above scenario is a reality they have to face every day. Baha’i children in Egypt are born with this identity crisis. The Egyptian constitution declares, “The State shall guarantee the freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rights”(article 46). But that is hardly the reality in practice, as the government only recognizes three religions. So unless you are a Muslim, Christian or Jew, you are ‘nobody’. Despite many attempts by Baha’i activists the court has ruled to keep a provision that uses a dash in the place of religion on the national ID card for adherents of religions other than the above mention three religions.
This series of photographs is a documentation of Baha’i youth who have felt unseen,unheard and unaccepted most of their lives. Some of them have been imprisoned for no apparent reason other than being a Baha’i, while others saw their own houses being burnt in front of their own eyes.
Their ID cards are representative of these struggles. Some live with a Muslim ID card, some don’t have one – in the eyes of the state, they simply don’t exist. In their own land they have been living a life where their existence is being “exiled”.
P.S. Viewers can also visit this in the following sites that have featured the story.
Documentary Photo Review
You can read from Baha’i activist Dr. Basma Moussa’s blog about it as well.