Cairo University ends disclosure of religious identity in paperwork
Students and staff at Cairo University will no longer have to disclose their religious identity in any university-related paperwork, the academic institution's president told a local TV channel on Tuesday.
"We noticed several complaints about the possibility of discrimination between students due to the mention of religion," Gaber Nassar told al-Nahar al-Youm channel in a phone interview.
"Lately I was surprised to see that a department head in one of the faculties was distributing an application that included the religion field," he added, explaining that students may feel they would be subject to discrimination when asked to specify their religious identity.
"At Cairo University, we don't take random decisions, we take decisions to amend illegal or unconstitutional situations," he said, adding that the university had no law or bylaw that requires anyone to mention their religious identity.
The new decision will be applied in all faculties and university-affiliated institutions at all academic levels, he said, adding that those who do not abide by the new decision face disciplinary action.
Mohamed Abdel Salam, a researcher in the academic freedoms and students' rights program at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), told local website Aswat Masriya that Nassar took the decision after a complaint from a student shed light on the situation.
Mina Nader was denied admission to the Cairo University's Institute of African Research and Studies early September after he was asked to identify his religion and sect "if the applicant is Christian".
Nader, who filed a complaint after his rejection, is yet to be accepted into the institute despite Nassar's decision.
|Lately I was surprised to see that a department head in one of the faculties was distributing an application that included the religion field.
- Gaber Nassar
"The situation is a bit complex," Abdel Salam said, "Nassar's decision, although progressive, came in relation to incidents that have been happening...so, we have to understand the context; this was partly done to avoid uproar."
Nassar's decision comes months after the parliament reviewed a draft bill aiming to eliminate the religious identity field from Egyptian national identity cards, an issue that has long sparked public debate.
The draft bill, which is yet to be presented for discussions and a vote, is based on Article 53 of Egypt's 2014 constitution.
The article sets discrimination and incitement to hate as "crimes punishable by law".