The right to restore churches

27-02-2013 10:30 PM

Nader Shukry

The Administrative Court (AC) taday ruled that the decision 291 of 2005 by the former president Hosni Mubarak should be annulled. The decision delegated  to governors, each in his governorate, the authority to issue permits for the demolition or the erection of churches in place of older dilapidated ones, and for refurbishment or expansion works needed for existing churches.
The case had been filed by the lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, head of al-Kalima human rights centre, who contested the presidential decision on grounds that the president of the republic does not hold the authority to grant such permits in the first place, consequently he cannot delegate it to the governors.
The AC gave the relevant building authorities the say concerning refurbishment permits which, according to the court ruling, should be approved or rejected–citing the reasons for rejection–within 30 days since the date the application is submitted, otherwise the permit would be automatically granted.

Nakhla commented that, even though the AC ruling represented a great advantage for Copts since it made church renovation and restoration works easier, the decision to build new churches is still in the hands of the president of the republic. He said there was already a court case he had filed to annul this decision which he describes as “restrictive to freedoms, discriminating against citizens, and violating of the principles of citizenship rights and the constitutional texts that stipulate equality for all.”

Watani International
27 February 2013

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