The Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensehd churches to grant them legality has on 24 January 2023 approved legalisation of a new batch of churches and affiliated service buildings.
The new batch comprises 73 churches and affiliated community service buildings, and is the 25th since the committee undertook its task in September 2017 according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly presided over the Cabinet-affiliated committee meeting which reviewed the decisions taken during the previous meeting on 14 November 2022. Participating in the meeting were the ministers of justice, local development, housing, and parliamentary affairs; also representatives of the engineering department of the armed forces and the ministry of antiquities.
According to Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad, the recent decision brings the number of churches and affiliated community service buildings approved for legalisation up to 2599 out of a total 3730 that had applied for legalisation according to the 2016 law. Legalisation becomes final only when the approved churches comply with provisions of structural soundness and civil defence (safety) conditions, prove land ownership, and pay the required dues.
Today’s decision requires the 73 churches to fulfill the minimum precautionary measures related to safety, such as providing fire extinguishers, and to urgently secure the supplies required in the decision that will be issued by the Minister of Housing in this regard. That is until those churches complete the remaining safety requirements according to the relevant building code.
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, leading many Copts to term these times “the crisis era”. Copts, who direly needed churches in view of the growing congregation and declining conditions of existing churches, resorted to circumventing the law and building churches without licence. The 2016 law stipulates a straightforward, time limited legal procedure to obtaining licence to build or restore a church or affiliated building, and includes provisions for legalising already existing unlicensed churches and Church-affiliated buildings.