A new law for building churches
Among the most important issues the heads of Churches tackled in the meeting with President Sisi was the need for a new law for building churches. The President said it was the right of every one on the land of Egypt to pray, and promised that, as stipulated by the Constitution, the law for building churches would be issued by the new parliament in its first round.
It is a fact on the ground in Egypt that a sizeable portion of sectarian tension results from the dire need for licensed places of worship on the part of the Copts. The laws which govern the building of churches go back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, and impose oppressive, prohibitive conditions for the building of churches. In desperation, Copts resort to worshipping in non-licensed buildings, which makes them liable to the law and to attacks by local Muslims. By contrast, mosques are built with total ease, being subject only to the building regulations, and entitled to government benefits.
Since 2005, several bills for a unified law for building places of worship had been presented to consecutive parliaments. Al-Azhar, however, rejected the idea of a unified law, on grounds that there was no problem with building mosques, so why should a new law be enacted? But a new law is needed for the building of churches.
Since the Constitution stipulates that a law for the building of churches in Egypt should be passed during the first round of the upcoming parliament, the first after the revolution that overthrew the Islamist regime of the Muslim Brothers in July 2013, representatives of the Churches in Egypt have been lately holding regular meetings to formulate a bill they all agree upon.
13 August 2014