photo: Eddy van Wessel


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Take religion off Identity Cards: leave a blank

Years ago, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the Netherlands very proudly showed me one of the changes he had made during his term: the application form for a visa for the small Gulf state no longer asked to state your religion.

I hardly realised then how extra-ordinary his move was, as I was so used to our European passports not disclosing a person’s believes, as a result of the separation between state and religion.

Since then, I have filled in many application forms for visa in the Middle East that did ask for that information. And when I went to live in the Kurdistan Region, it also was a question I got asked by officials filling in my registration papers that led to my residency permit.

In a predominantly Muslim country it’s not an option to say you do not have a religion. If you are not Muslim, then you must by Christian, is the automatic assumption for a Westerner.
Read on...

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