Nasr al-Din takes his inspiration from the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Ismail Nasr al-Din, an Egyptian Member of Parliament, stated his intention on November 18 to submit a bill which will enable the omission of religion from the country's national identification card. The bill, if passed, will erase the mention of religion from all official documents.
Nasr al-Din has been quoted by Egyptian media as saying that if this law is passed, Egypt will be a civil state which respects all values of citizenship. The North African country's regional charter recognizes three "heavenly religions." It also guarantees, in theory, the freedom of worship and belief applicable to all citizens. However, Article 2 of the country's constitution provides official religion status to only Islam. The present law also states that Islamic Sharia principles are the principal fountain of legislation.
According to the Egyptian lawmaker, the time is perfect to eliminate all kinds of religious discrimination. Nasr al-Din added that he was inspired by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when the latter championed citizenship rights at the recently held World Youth Forum. The President of Egypt spoke of an ideal country with diversity and religious tolerance in the city of Sharm el-Sheikh. He told his youthful audience every citizen has full rights to chosen worship or even to no worship.
The problem is that actual Egypt is much different than the ideal one. Atheism continues to be a taboo in Egypt, a country dominated by conservative Muslims. Not only atheists, but Christians, who form a minority, also face hostility and discrimination. The extant blasphemy laws prosecute those who express an absence of faith and atheists can be imprisoned up to a period of five years if found to disrespect any of the chosen three monotheistic religions. Harsh punishment is also reserved for people who utilize religion to push extremist ideas into Egyptian society.
Nasr al-Din has pointed out that the constitution amended in 2014 stipulates non-discrimination among the citizens and the latter share equal values and associated rights. The lawmaker noted it is important to start with amending all official documents if Egypt wants to establish the ideal civil state which respects all citizenship values. To do this, he added, the mention of religion must be erased from all national and local ID cards. The lawmaker said he will collect signatures of all House of Representatives members from all parliamentarians. This action will happen after the House of Representatives' legal committee finally drafts the bill.