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Cablegate: Ambassador Raises Religious Freedom Issues, Tip

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #6868 3191424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151424Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2580
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1296

UNCLAS CAIRO 006868

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KCRM KIRF EG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR RAISES RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ISSUES, TIP
WITH PUBLIC PROSECUTOR

REF: A. CAIRO 6756

B. CAIRO 6377

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) In a November 9 meeting with Public Prosecutor Abdel
Meguid Mahmoud (Egypt's Attorney General equivalent), the
Ambassador noted continuing USG attention to religious
freedom issues. While stressing U.S. respect for the
Egyptian legal framework and the overall sensitivity of the
topic, the Ambassador flagged American interest in the
November 20 Supreme Administrative Court hearing of the GOE's
appeal of an April 4 lower court ruling that ordered the GOE
to allow Bahai's to list their religion on their national
identity cards (Ref A). (Note: Under current Egyptian law,
citizens can list their religious affiliation on ID cards
only with one of the three "heavenly" faiths - Muslim,
Christian, or Jew. End note.) The Ambassador noted his hope
that the GOE would devise a workable and just solution to the
problem of compelling citizens to list religion on ID cards,
which causes problems for Bahai's as well as Muslims who seek
to convert from Islam. Mahmoud did not directly respond to
the Ambassador's comments, but clearly understood the
importance the USG places on religious freedom issues.

2. (SBU) Ambassador and Mahmoud also discussed continuing
USG-GOE cooperation on TIP-related issues, and the imminent
creation of an inter-ministerial GOE committee to coordinate
the fight against TIP (reported Ref B). Mahmoud asserted
that the placing of Egypt on the TIP Tier 2 Watch List is
"unjust" and "unfounded." He also highlighted that Egypt is
strictly a transit country, not a country of origin or
destination for trafficked persons.
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