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Existence Exiled: Baha'is in Egypt

Quamrul Abedin | Egypt

Organization: Pathshala

Existence Exiled: Baha'is in Egypt - 01

The Baha’i children in Egypt are born with an identity crisis. “The State shall guarantee the freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rights,” says the Egyptian constitution (article 46). But in practice, the government only recognizes three religions. So unless you are a Muslim, Christian or Jew, you are 'nobody'. Though after much hurdle, a court ruling has been done for a provision to keep ‘-’ (dash) in the place of religion in ID card, practically there is almost no implementation of that.

This series of photographs narrates about the Baha’i teenagers or Baha’i youth who have been living with an impression of being unseen, being unheard and mostly of being unaccepted. Some of them were imprisoned with no apparent reason other than being a Baha’i, some others even saw their own houses being burnt in front of their own eyes. Even after all these, some live with a Muslim ID card, some don’t have one- they simply don’t exist. In their own land they have been living a life where their existence is being exiled.

This project was started as a part of the collaboration program among Pathshala, Bangladesh -  Oslo University College, Norway & Contemporary Image Collective, Egypt in March, 2013.

To me photography is my way of channeling my observations, psychological absorptions and the metamorphosis I go through to confront the idea of my very own ‘reality’ and 'identity'.

While researching for this project, the crisis of identity among the Egyptian Baha'is caught my attention not only because I felt a connection with the feeling of "Identity Crisis" but also because it was a story which was never visually told before.

This is the early stage of this long term project where I tried to deal and show the Baha'i youth who can be perceived as unseen, without identity and at the same time vividly present.

  •  Baha'is living in Egypt.
  • Interview with Dr. Basma Moussa, Professor, Cairo University.
  • Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, Cairo.
  • The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

    There were no NGOs directly affiliated to the funding or facilitating communication for the project. Although information and statistics collected from abvoe mentioned NGOs helped with the research.

    Quamrul Abedin





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