Recently, a small but resounding policy change was made in Jordan and after many years, religious affiliation will be removed from its national ID cards. (ChristianExaminer.com)
As reported by Al Bawaba, the country will be issuing smart ID cards instead, which will serve as an ID card and an ATM card. Additionally, the new ID cards will contain digitized information that will only be readable by scanners. Now, this doesn’t mean that an individual’s religious affiliation will be unknown, however it will not be readily seen by others. This is especially important in terms of keeping it hidden from Islamic State terrorists who sometimes use the ID information to single out victims.
Egypt is now debating this concept as well. In June of 2016, supporters of the initiative gathered signatures of 60 Parliament members, which was enough to allow the bill to be introduced for discussion.
As stated by the bill, “The religion field shall be abolished from ID cards and all official documents. No citizen may be compelled to disclose his/her religion unless doing so where necessary to determine the legal premise of matters such as inheritance and marriages.”
Supporters see the bill as a helping hand in creating a homogeneous society where people can firstly identify themselves as Egyptian before anything else. Others, however, do feel that maintaining Egypt’s Muslim identity is most important. Some have argued that the move is in direct violation of the country’s constitution, which states the national religion as Islam.
Marwan Qutaishat, head of Jordan’s passport authority, argues that the religious designation on the ID cards don’t actually serve to advance or demonstrate a particular faith and is a huge proponent of equal protection of religious affiliation under the law.