Egypt’s Cabinet last week approved the legalisation of status of 168 de-facto churches and Church-affiliated buildings that had never been licensed for worship purposes. This is the fourth batch of unlicensed churches to be approved for legalisation since the process started by law in September 2017. It brings the number of approvals up to 508 out of an original 3730 that had applied for legalisation of status.
Among the new batch, 151 buildings were granted final approvals for legalisation, whereas 17 are pending compliance with civil defence requirements.
Prime minister Mostafa Madbouli gave directions to the Cabinet-affiliated Committee in charge of nominating the approvals to speed up the process.
Legalisation decisions are subject to the structural soundness of the buildings as proved by a committee from the building authority, as well as to compliance with civil protection regulations and payment of the required legalisation fees.
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.
4 December 2018