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ICC Note: Egypt’s church leaders are hopeful that a new law will remove restrictions on construction of new churches. A law that has been in place for decades has made it incredibly difficult to get the legal permission to construct a new building. The draft law exists, and church leaders are hopeful for its adoption in early 2015.

10/22/2014 Egypt (Asia News) – Christians in Egypt may soon be free to build their own churches, this according to Fr Rafic Greiche, spokesman for the Catholic Church.

Speaking to AsiaNews, the clergyman said he was confident that parliament would pass over the coming months a bill that would remove all existing restrictions on Christian places of worship.

“At the request of the government, the leaders of the various Christian denominations drafted a proposal, which they had been pushing for a long while. Parliament will meet in January and February next year and we trust they will approve it.”

Adopted in 1934, the current law bans – among other things – church building near schools, canals, villages, railways, government offices and residential areas. This has meant that, in Upper Egypt and the more rural areas, whole towns or villages have no church.

“When President al-Sisi met the bishops of various denominations as well as Pope Tawadros II, he raised the issue, saying that every Egyptian is free to worship in his own place of worship,” Fr Greiche told AsiaNews.

President al-Sisi, a former general who ousted President Mohamed Morsi and ended the Muslim Brotherhood’ hold on power in June 2013, is a Muslim but from the beginning of his mandate gave his government a pluralistic basis. His cabinet for example has three Christian and four women ministers. At the same time, the general climate has changed in the country.

“In terms of security, life is much better than the year when the Muslim Brotherhood was in power,” said the spokesman of the Catholic Church. Indeed, “the country is becoming more confident and, in a sense, one can say that the ‘Egypt’ has found itself.”…

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