The Cabinet-affiliated committee charged with looking into the status of unlicensed churches to grant them legality, has on 23 September 2019 approved the legalisation of a new batch of churches and affiliated service buildings. Cabinet spokesperson Nader Saad said that the new batch comprises 62 places of worship, and is the 10th since the committee undertook its task some two years ago according to the 2016 Law for Building and Restoring Churches.
The recent decision brings the number of churches and affiliated community centre buildings approved for legalisation up to 1171 buildings 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.
Mr Saad said that the committee, over which Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli presides, reviewed the work achieved since its last meeting on 5 August 2019. It also reviewed the civil defence conditions in the churches whose legalisation had already been approved, stressing the importance of fulfilling these requirements in order to protect lives and property.
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.
24 September 2019