The Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches and granting them legality, has today approved legalisation of a new batch of churches and affiliated service buildings, the Cabinet’s spokesperson Nader Saad said. The new batch comprises 88 places of worship, and is the 9th since the committee undertook its task in September 2017 according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli presided over today’s meeting which was attended by the ministers of justice; legal affairs and the House of Representatives; local development; and housing, utilities, and urban development, as well as representatives of the relevant authorities.
The Prime Minister stressed the need for the civil defence authorities to coordinate with the churches on reasonable civil defence requirements, since the Churches had complained that the conditions stipulated were too stringent and, in some cases, difficult to meet. It must be borne in mind however, he said, that civil defence was all about protecting life and property.
The recent approvals bring the number of churches approved for legality up to 1109 out of a total 3730 that had applied for legalisation 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.
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.