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Egypt Sets to Remove Constitutional Restrictions to Building New Churches

ICC Note:

A committee tasked with working on the suspended 2012 Egyptian constitution adopted a measure on Sunday that would bring an end to Constitutional restrictions that regulate the construction of new churches in Egypt. This development would mark a major change on Egypt’s historical stance towards the construction of new churches and religious freedom. Please pray that this measure is written into law.

10/28/2013 Egypt (Ahram Online) – Egypt’s 50-member committee tasked with amending the suspended 2012 constitution adopted on Sunday a transitional article that will cancel existing restrictions regulating the building of new churches.

According to Ahram Arabic news website, the committee also initially adopted an article [47] which stipulates “absolute freedom of belief” for Egyptian citizens and endows the state with the responsibility to ensure free practice of religion.

However, under pressure from representatives of Egypt’s highest Sunni authority Al-Azhar, which has demanded that freedom of religion be restricted to the three monotheistic beliefs, the committee opted to postpone its vote on article 47 until Monday.

Sources at the meeting told Ahram that representatives of the church, who have until now strongly supported complete freedom of religion, sided with Al-Azhar’s objection.

Christians, who make up 10 to15 percent of Egypt’s 85 million, need special presidential permits in order to build or renovate churches in Egypt.

Supporters of equal rights for all citizens have long demanded the freedom to build and renovate churches without restraint in order to ensure parity between Egypt’s religions.

Islamic extremists have attacked tens of churches, destroying many, in the past 15 years.

Following the police’s bloody dispersal of two sit-ins supporting ousted president Mohamed Morsi, churches and Christian homes and businesses have been attacked nationwide.

Amnesty International, a London-based rights group, says that upwards of 200 Christian-owned properties have been attacked and 43 churches torched or seriously damaged across the country since Morsi’s ouster.

None of Egypt’s previous constitutions included a law to regulate the building of mosques.

[Full Story]

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