Complying with Article 8 of the Law for Building and Restoring Churches that was passed in 2016, the Cabinet has issued a decision to form a committee to look into legalising the status of unlicensed churches and church-affiliated buildings.
Chaired by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, the committee includes representatives of Egyptian Churches as well as ministers of Defence, Military Production, Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, Local Development, Legal Affairs and the House of Representatives, Justice, and Antiquities. The General Intelligence, the Administrative Supervisory Authority and National Security Department are also represented in the committee.
According to the recently issued decision, the legal representative of each Church should submit to the committee the applications relevant to the churches demanding legalision of their status no later than 28 September 2017. No applications presented after 28 September 2017 will be looked into.
The Cabinet’s decision aroused fears on account of the intensive presence of State authorities, especially those concerned with security, in the committee, meaning that decisions are taken based on one vote for the Church versus 10 votes for the State. There were also objections to the confidentiality imposed on the committee’s decisions, as well as there being no provisions for action to be taken in case the committee rejects legalising a given church.