AFRICA/EGYPT - The Egyptian parliament is preparing to discuss the new law on the construction of places of worship

Wednesday, 4 May 2016 civil society  


Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - The new text of the law on the construction of places of worship, has been prepared in its pre-definitive version, and will be discussed by the Egyptian Parliament in coming weeks, probably within the current month. The draft legislation, according to sources cited by the Egyptian press, was delivered to the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church in recent days, so as to listen to evaluations and any objections regarding the text.
In autumn 2014, representatives of the main churches and Christian communities in Egypt sent a memorandum to the leaders of the Egyptian government with suggestions and proposals, in view of a new legislation on the construction of buildings for Christian worship on Egyptian territory (see Fides 27/10/2014). The underlying intention that inspired the proposals of the Christian leaders - reported on that occasion to Agenzia Fides Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Coptic Catholic Bishop of Guizeh - was to "facilitate the implementation of streamlined and clear procedures that depend only on the law, and are to be subtracted to any kind of arbitrariness". According to the proposals made then by the Churches present in Egypt, the granting of permits for the construction of places of Christian worship should be exercised by the local municipal authorities, as is the case for the construction of private buildings, without involving the provincial or national levels of the administrative apparatus.
The bureaucratic constraints that complicate the construction of new churches date back in part to the Ottoman period. In 1934, the Interior Ministry added the so-called "ten rules", which forbid among other things to build new churches near schools, channels, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the strict application of those rules has prevented to build churches in cities and villages inhabited by Christians, especially in the rural areas of Upper Egypt. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 04/05/2016)