Cabinet approves legalisation of 156 unlicensed churches and church-affiliated buildings

06-03-2019 10:39 AM

Nader Shukry

Egypt’s Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches has today approved the legalisation of 156 churches and affiliated service buildings. This is the sixth batch of churches to gain legal status, and brings the number of approved churches up to 783 out of an original 3730 that had applied for legality according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches. Legalisation becomes final only when the approved churches comply with provisions of structural soundness and civil defence, and pay the required dues.

Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said that, among the 156 churches and affiliated buildings approved today, 17 await compliance with structural soundness provisions.

According to Mr Saad, the Cabinet observed that a number of the approved buildings were slow to complete the civil defence measures required of them. The Cabinet decided to extend a grace period of an additional four months for these churches to comply.

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 the declining conditions of existing churches, thus resorted to circumventing the law and building churches without licence. The 2016 law includes provisions for legalising unlicensed churches and church-affiliated buildings.

Watani International

5 March 2019

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