A 1000 news and report articles documented since 2017 on freedom of religion or belief and the status of religion in the public sphere, distributed according to the type of event, the geographical area and the time of its occurrence

Press Release

27 February 2023

Today, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) announced the launch of the trial version of the “Map of Religious Freedoms'', as one of its most important activities. The map aims to provide a monitoring and documentation reference for incidents of discrimination and sectarian violence, political, legal and social developments related to the status of religion in the public sphere, and trials and prosecution investigations that affect the state of freedom of religion and belief in Egypt. This project shall provide a robust informational base for policy makers, researchers, media professionals, and the general public, that enables them to intervene towards improving the climate for religious freedoms.

The map of religious freedoms comes as part of the EIPR efforts in promoting a culture of respect for freedom of religion and belief as a basic human right and a source of individual and social prosperity. This goal is achieved by supporting the rights of individuals to enjoy freedom of religion and belief and not to be subjected to discrimination or coercion because of their beliefs. EIPR believes that the climate for religious freedoms will not improve without an objective and real monitoring of the development of the state of freedom of religion and belief that helps victims of violations and discrimination on the basis of religion express their grievances and formulate their demands, and helps media professionals, research centers and universities at the same time to follow up on this issue and publish about it in a way that affects the lives and conditions of the different religious groups in Egypt and the drafting of laws and legislations related to religious freedoms.

EIPR has devoted an independent program to religious freedoms since 2004, working on several important files, most notably: sectarian violence, freedom of opinion and expression in religion, and the independence of religious institutions. The program also monitors, analyzes, and addresses several phenomena, including laws, policies and practices that lead to direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of religion or belief, security breaches and trials based on religious opinions. EIPR issues fact-finding data and reports, and analytical studies on political and social developments related to violations of freedom of religion and belief, and an analysis of the roles of the various actors and measures to correct discrimination based on religious or sectarian grounds.

Ishak Ibrahim, senior researcher and coordinator of the Freedom of Religion and Belief Program, confirmed that the map is an interactive tool to monitor and document the development of the state of freedom of religion and belief on a regular basis. He said: The map provides about a thousand news and reporting materials over five years, from 2017 to 2021, and cases are being uploaded for the past year, to become a quick source of information in the future. The map includes three main classifications according to the type of development or violation, the geographical location, and the time of the event, allowing for the search through hundreds of analytical data that help media professionals, researchers, and decision-makers to information regarding the state of freedom of religion and belief in Egypt.

Amr Abdel Rahman, Director of the Civil Liberties Unit, added that the launch of the map is a first step in building a quantitative database, the first of its kind, to help decision-makers and analysts accurately identify the state of religious freedoms in Egypt and identify deficiencies and priorities for legislative or policy intervention.

EIPR stressed that its vision in action stems from the fact that freedom of religion and belief is an individual right for every person to believe or not believe in a religion or belief, and to change it without being subjected to any discrimination or coercion resulting from this choice. This vision is based on international human rights charters, which have become part of Egyptian legislation in accordance with the current constitution. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights protects the freedom of individuals, whether it is the adoption of any monotheistic and non-monotheistic religions, or any other belief regarding religions. The scope of its interpretation should not be restricted to the mainstream religions only. This right includes the freedom of every person to declare his/her religion or belief through worship, performing rituals, practicing and teaching, alone or with a group, separately or in public.

In preparing the published news and reports, the researchers depend on the field activity of the Freedom of Religion and Belief Program team at EIPR, the cases and complaints received directly by EIPR, and the information published in the media that EIPR researchers document, in addition to what is published in the Official Gazette of laws and decisions related to freedom of religion and belief, as well as the rationales given in judicial rulings and investigations of the Public Prosecution.

EIPR receives suggestions, questions, inquiries and reports at eipr@eipr.org