The Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches to grant them legality has on 31 December 2019 approved the legalisation of a new batch of churches and affiliated service buildings. Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said that the new batch comprises 90 places of worship, and is the 13th since the committee undertook its task more than two years ago according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli headed the Cabinet-affiliated committee meeting on 31 December, and used the event to offer Copts his best wishes for the New Year and upcoming Nativity Feast which Copts celebrate on 7 January. Participating in the meeting were the ministers of justice, local development, housing, and parliamentary affairs. Also attending were representatives of the Christian sects in Egypt.
The recent decision brings the number of churches and affiliated community centre buildings approved for legalisation up to 1412 buildings out of a total 3730 that had applied for legalisation according to the 2016 law. Legalisation becomes final only when the approved churches comply with provisions of structural soundness and civil defence conditions, and pay the required dues.
Until the Law for Building and Restoring Churches was passed in Egypt in September 2016, it was next to impossible for Copts to obtain official licence to build or restore a church. Copts, who direly needed churches in view of the growing congregation and declining conditions of existing churches, thus resorted to circumventing the law and building churches without licence. The 2016 law includes provisions for legalising already existing unlicensed churches and church-affiliated buildings.
2 January 2020