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Arabeyes: What's Your Religion?

Bureaucracy is a way of life in some Arab countries. Egyptian blogger Nora Younis shows us what happens when bureaucracy mixes with religious profiling, in this post I am translating from Arabic.

Nora Younis

Nora writes:

صباح أمس الأول توجهت لمصلحة الشهر العقاري بقصر النيل لتسجيل توكيل عام قضايا للمحامي الخاص بي.. هناك فوجئت أنه علي أن أثبت ديانتي وديانة المحامي في التوكيل.. وبما أني لم أنوي الزواج من المحامي بعد، فلم يكن ليخطر ببالي أبدا أن أسئله عن ديانته.. كل ما أردته هو محامي كفء لمهمة قضائية محددة، ولا أظنه يضيرني أو يضير الدولة المصرية في شيء ان كان يهوديا، أو شينتو، أو حتى من عبدة الجزرة المقدسة!
وبما أنه لا يوجد قانونا ما يخص أو يمنع وكالة غير المسلم عن المسلم، أو غير القبطي عن القبطي، فلم أستطع تفسير الموقف سوى بأن الدولة المصرية ترغم المواطنين على التمييز في أمور غير ضرورية حتى لو أرادوا العزوف عن ذلك. لم أكن أتخيل أن يأتي اليوم الذي أسأل فيه شخصا غريبا عني: دين حضرتك ايه؟
Yesterday morning I went to the Real Estate Registration Office to sign a notary form, appointing my lawyer. There, I was surprised to discover that I was required to prove my religion and the religion of the lawyer I wanted to appoint. And because I wasn't planning to get married to the lawyer yet, it never crossed my mine to ask him about his religion before this. All that I wanted was a competent lawyer for a specific task and I don't think it will effect me or the Egyptian state whether he was Jewish or Shinto or even an adherent of the sacred carrot!
Since there wasn't a law stipulating that a non-Muslim cannot appoint a Muslim, and a non-Coptic, a Coptic, I wasn't able to explain the situation other than that the Egyptian state forces citizens to discriminate against each other even when they did not want to do so.
I never though the day would ever come that I would turn around to a stranger and ask him for his religion.

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