Proposed Egyptian Law to Reduce Restrictions on Building Churches

The Coptic Orthodox Virgin Mary church is seen during sunset in Cairo, April 18, 2009 (photo: REUTERS/Tarek Mostafa).

The Coptic Orthodox Virgin Mary church is seen during sunset in Cairo, April 18, 2009 (photo: REUTERS/Tarek Mostafa).

By Ahmed Fouad

27/9/14

The unified houses of worship law, which regulates the construction of mosques and churches in Egypt, is still waiting for the parliament’s approval.

Although the voting sessions in parliament haven’t begun yet, the controversy about the houses of worship law started when Christian lawyer Nabil Luka Bibawi filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court of the Egyptian State Council to compel the prime minister and the justice minister to form a committee comprising scholars from Al-Azhar and the Egyptian church to write the law’s outline.

The lawsuit was referred to the State Commissioners Authority on Sept. 1, to prepare a report about it and to hear the legal opinion of the commission, which did not decide on the lawsuit yet. Al-Monitor tried to find out the proposals of all parties about the law and identify the obstacles facing the building of Muslim and Christian houses of worship in Egypt.

Safwat al-Bayadi, the head of the Evangelical Church in Egypt, told Al-Monitor that the obstacles restricting the building of churches date back to 1934, when then Deputy Interior Minister Al-Ezabi Pasha put down 10 conditions on the building of churches. The conditions included: Not building churches near schools, canals in villages, railways, government offices, government facilities, or between residential areas.

“Most of the churches were established through facilities provided by various governments, but the conditions of Pasha hindered the building of churches in many cases,” he said. “Entire cities and villages in the countryside and in Upper Egypt don’t have a single church.”

Read the full story here.

© 2014 Assyrian International News Agency.

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