Last week saw President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi visit the oasis of Farafra in the Western Desert last week to celebrate the harvest of the first wheat planted there, in what are the first 10,000 feddans of the projected 1.5 million feddans of desert land to be greened in Farafra. At the same time, Anba Boctor, Bishop of al-Wadi al-Gadeed (The New Valley), visited the village of al-Khadamat in Farafra, to inspect the construction work on a new church being built there.
The new church will be consecrated in the name of Mar-Boctor (St Victor). It is being built at the expense of the State, a first in the history of Egyptian churches. President Sisi had ordered its building and signed the permit for it, to serve the Christian workforce who would be among the new settlers there for the 1.5 million feddan project. Until a new law for building churches is passed by the Egyptian House of Representatives, any new church needs a presidential permit to build. The new law should, according to Egypt’s 2014 Constitution, be passed in the current parliament round which is the first round for the first post-Constitution parliament. It should also stipulate more lenient, fair conditions for the building of churches, which is now governed by harsh outdated regulations that make it almost prohibitive to build new churches or restore existing ones. Getting a permit for a new church has in some cases taken up to 40 years of arduous efforts on the part of Copts, causing them much pain and humiliation. In many cases, and in view of growing congregations, Copts have resorted to building unlicensed churches, which in itself has been a feat that landed them in much trouble.
Sixty per cent of the construction work of the new church is now already concluded.
10 May 2016