Problems on hold
The problem with ID and voter cards
The last five months were so full of crucial events on the national and Coptic level, that I caught myself—apparently oblivious to the passage of time—missing out on some of the problems long placed on hold by the authorities. What with the presidential elections of last September, the Washington conference in October, the sectarian riots in Alexandria in October and November, the parliamentary elections which brought in an unprecedented number of Islamists—who won 20 per cent of the seats—to the new Parliament in November, and finally last month’s bloody assault on the village church in Udeisat, Luxor, the investigation on which has yet to yield the culprits; other causes had to recede temporarily into the shade.
Prominent among the problems on hold are those concerned with the suffering people endure in order to have new computerised ID cards issued to replace the old, manually-issued documents which are now being phased out by the government. These old documents are usually submitted with the application for the new computer ones, and are the source of the information to be entered on the civil register computer. Frequently however, the civil register clerks enter erroneous information, naturally resulting in incorrect data on the new documents. When faced with the error and a request for correction, these same clerks refuse to correct the errors claiming that “the computer does not err”. The victims are sent on arduous journeys to prove the veracity of the information requiring correction, even though the correct data had already been submitted in the original documents. ++Watani++ has printed instances of such mistakes the victims of which had never been able to have their documents corrected, and the head office of the civil register authority responded by speedily correcting the errors.
Today, I publish another such horror case; only this time it needs a very urgent correction, since it concerns a young woman who has to sit for her Thanawiya Amma or secondary school certificate examinations, and has no correct ID card to prove her identity. Miss Mariam Nabil Sadeq Saïd, who is Christian, has been cited in the new computerised birth certificate which is pre-requisite to the computerised ID card, as a Muslim born to a Muslim father and Muslim mother. These same father and mother are cited as Christian in the [correct] birth certificates of Mariam’s sister Martha and brother Bassem. Mariam can neither afford the time nor effort required to run the wild-goose chase which may—or may not—lead to the correction of her erroneous birth certificate in time to apply for the examination. We would be deeply grateful to General Sherif Galal, director general of the media and public relations office of the Interior Minister, if he would hasten to have her data corrected.
of problems concerns voter cards. I will today
begin writing about problem cases of issuing voter cards, since the
deadline for application is 10 March, and we would
like the biggest number possible of eligible voters to apply. Mr Maurice Gorgi Mikhail from
I wish to stress to Mr and Mrs Mikhail that we ought not allow any irresponsible or weak-minded official to drive us away from participating in shaping the change we aspire for and which lies ahead. Most of us patiently struggle to obtain documents we cannot live without, such as birth certificates and ID cards, but do not find it worth our while to endure similar hardship in order to obtain a voter card. I believe we cannot be more wrong. A voter card is not a dispensable piece of paper without which we can go on with our lives. The entire homeland stands to lose if one invaluable vote goes missing. In fact, this vote may well be a deciding one in the destiny of our country.