The Coptic Orthodox Church has posted on its Facebook page a statement to refute allegations propagated by a TV channel known for its criticism of the State, on account of what the channel claimed to be unequal conditions for building places of worship.
The Church’s statement said the TV channel was attempting to sow sedition among Egyptians and break the ranks of national unity by claiming, through comparison, that standards for building places of worship in Egypt were not equal [in case of mosques and churches]. To this end, the statement said, the channel used misquoted, old declarations made by a bishop before the Law for Building and Restoration of Churches was passed in September 2916. The law has stipulated clear conditions for building churches, to which the Church is fully committed. The Coptic Church cannot approve of [illegal] encroaching on land in any way.
“We reaffirm,” the statement declared, “what all Egyptians know: that the Egyptian Coptic Church respects the Constitution and the laws. It was and will remain among the first supporters of national projects in the country, and it always upholds public interest, as proved in many situations. The Coptic Church confirms that the current leadership of the Egyptian State stands at equal distance from everyone in dealing with any violation of the law; it is no different in dealing with places of worship.
“We also confirm the following facts:
1- The Coptic Orthodox Church affirms no church has been built on State-owned land, except lands which the State allocated to the Church according to the law, and that only in new towns.
2- The lands the channel falsely referred to are agricultural lands that were included in the cordons of towns and villages; they still are legally annotated as such. These lands are not owned by the State; they are private property.
3- All churches built in populated residential regions before the law 80 of 2016 [Law for Building and Restoration of Churches] have officially applied for legalisation according to the law. The applications were submitted to the Cabinet Committee in charge of the matted, chaired by the Prime Minister.
4- Any churches built following passage of the law were built in accordance with that law.
6 September 2020