Egypt’s Cabinet-affiliated committee that is charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches has today approved the legalisation of a fifth batch of churches, including 80 churches and affiliated service buildings, among them nine churches and services buildings pending compliance with civil defence requirements. This brings the number of approved churches since the committee started its work in September 2017 to 627 churches and service buildings, including 39 pending compliance with civil defence requirements, out of a total 3730 churches and service buildings that had applied for legalisation of status before the deadline of September 2017 set by the Law for Building and Restoring Churches.
During today’s meeting, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli gave directions to the Committee to speed up the process of nominating the churches and service buildings to be approved, as long as these answer all the requirements of the Law for Building and Restoring Churches issued in 2016. Mr Madbouli also called on the heads of Churches to urge the churches in questions to respond to and comply with the committee’s requirements in what concerns civil safety procedures and the payment of the State 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 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.
Following the passage of the law, churches and their affiliated service buildings which wished to legalise their status were invited to present their papers to a special committee that was formed by the Cabinet to look into their cases. Only the files which answered the requirements set by the law regarding structural soundness, compliance with civil safety conditions, and paying the required dues, were accepted. The committee gave one year for all the churches and service buildings to present their papers through their legal representatives. Until 28 September 2017, 3730 churches and service buildings belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches had submitted their files to the committee for legalisation.
31 December 2018