AFRICA/EGYPT - Nearly 900 churches "regularized" by the Egyptian government in less than 3 years

Thursday, 11 April 2019


Cairo (Agenzia Fides) - In Egypt the process of "legalization" of Christian places of worship built in the past without the required permits, along with the granting of permits for the construction of new churches continues to advance. In the last month, the special governmental committee in charge of audits has legalized another 111 places of worship, bringing the number of Christian churches regularized, restored or built from scratch in less than 3 years to 984, starting from the approval of the new law on the construction and management of places of worship (30 August 2016).
The churches subjected to the scrutiny of the ad hoc government commission are above all those built before the new law on the construction of Christian buildings of worship came into force (see Fides 7/3/2019). The work of the government commission, set up ad hoc, consists in verifying whether thousands of Christian churches and places of prayer built in the past without the required authorizations meet the standards established by the new law. Verification is usually resolved in the "regularization" of places of worship, which are declared compliant with the parameters defined by the new legal provisions.
In recent decades, many of the Christian places of worship had been built spontaneously, without all the necessary authorizations. Even today, these very buildings, built by local Christian communities without legal permits, continue from time to time to be used as an excuse by Islamist groups to foment sectarian violence against Christians.
The law on places of worship in August 2016 represented an objective step forward for the Egyptian Christian communities compared to the so-called "10 rules" added in 1934 to the Ottoman legislation by the Ministry of the Interior, which forbade among other things to build new churches close to schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas. In many cases, the strict application of those rules had prevented the construction of churches in cities and towns inhabited by Christians, especially in rural areas of Upper Egypt. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 11/4/2019)