Father Mikhail Antoun, deputy head of the Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches and granting them legality, told Watani that the committee has today approved legalisation of the status of a new batch of churches and affiliated service buildings belonging to the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical Churches in Egypt. The new batch comprises 127 places of worship.
The approval was issued in a meeting over which Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli presided, and was attended by the ministers of justice; legal affairs and the House of Representatives; local development; and housing, utilities, and urban development, as well as representatives of the relevant authorities.
According to Nader Saad, the Cabinet’s spokesperson, it was decided during the meeting that in the case of churches and affiliated buildings earlier approved for legalision, the deadline for complying with civil defense requirements would be extended by an extra four months.
Prime Minister Madbouli demanded that a memo be sent to all governors firmly stressing that the churches and service buildings approved for legality should be licensed as places of worship; they are not to be used or disposed of in any other way.
The 127 churches and service buildings comprise the 9th batch approved for potential legality since the Committee started its work in September 2017, and bring that number up to 1021 out of a total 3730 that had applied for legalisation according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches. Legalisation becomes final only when the approved churches comply with provisions of structural soundness and civil defence, and pay the required dues.
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. Copts, who direly needed churches in view of the growing congregation and declining conditions of existing churches, thus resorted to circumventing the law and building churches without licence. The 2016 law includes provisions for legalising already existing unlicensed churches and church-affiliated buildings.
1 July 2019