AFRICA/EGYPT - First (positive) effects of the law on the construction of churches

Wednesday, 7 September 2016 oriental churches  


Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - In Egypt, the generally positive effects are being registered in various local situations with regards to the new law on the construction and restoration of churches, approved by the Egyptian parliament on August 30 (see Fides 31/8/2016). The Copts of the village of Rahmaniyah, near the city of Qena, saw the reopening of their church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and closed for thirty years, thanks to a provision of the local security forces. Meanwhile, Coptic priest Beeman Shaker, of the Diocese of Shubra Al Khaimah, announced the start of work to build a church whose construction was approved in 2002 and which until now had been blocked by the opposition of radical Islamist groups operating in the area.
While the Official Gazette has announced the approval - ordered directly by President Abdel Pattah al Sisi – of the project of building a new church in New Cairo, the new urban center that covers 30 thousand hectares in the southeastern limit of the governorate of Cairo.
One of the most controversial articles of the new law is that which binds the construction of new buildings for Christian worship, as well as their size, the number of Christians living in the area. With regards to such provision - refer Coptic sources consulted by Agenzia Fides – there is the absence of an updated census able to point out the exact number of Christian communities scattered in various Egyptian provinces. In some areas, the substantial increase in the number of Christian communities was not recorded in any way by the local authorities. Since the nineties, management officials of the census and demographic statistics have not updated the data on the number of Egyptian Christian communities, starting from the Coptic Church, which according to some analysts, in recent decades have abundantly surpassed ten million. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 07/09/2016)