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ICC Note:

A lawyer at the UN High Commissioner for Minority Affairs has officially sent a warning to Egypt’s Prime Minister urging them to stop the closure of churches and giving the government one-week to reopen the closed churches. It is unclear whether Egypt will comply with the warning, which comes after at least four churches were recently closed down in the Minya governorate. Church closures are a regular occurrence in Egypt, depriving entire villages of the opportunity to worship. Egyptian authorities can and must do more to protect the rights of Christians.


11/14/2017 Egypt (Egyptian Streets) –  Fellow of the UN High Commissioner for Minority Affairs, Joseph Malak, sent a warning on Sunday to Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and other officials, urging them to stop the closure of churches. He added that the government will be given one-week to reopen the closed churches and adhere to the law and constitution.

At least four churches were closed down in Minya governorate, over the past few weeks, in what was viewed, by several Copts, as a take over by extremists in Upper Egypt.

The archbishop of el-Minya governorate, Makarios, released a statement in response to the closure of the churches.

The statement said “We adhered to silence after the closure of one church, on the off chance that officials would intervene. However, this closure was followed by others, as if praying is a crime and Copts should be punished for it.”

Archbishop Makarios added that compromises are always offered for peaceful coexistence. Nonetheless, Copts are the only ones who pay for the coexistence, not the violators and extremists.

The statement listed the closed churches, with dates of their closure, according to Youm7.

On 15 October, the first church, which was previously attacked and shut down in 2015, was reopened by Copts because the government didn’t take any steps to reopen it, according to the statement. However, the worshippers were harassed and the church had to be closed down, again.

The second church was closed down on 22 October, when extremists threw stones and injured four worshippers. The extremists were not arrested.

A third church was also closed on 22 October, with no concrete reason for the closure other than security reasons to avoid possible attacks.

Following violations on the properties of Copts on 27 October, and injuring a Christian woman, security forces tightened their grip on a fourth church. However, it was not clear in the statement whether it was closed or not.

Archbishop Makarios concluded his statement saying that praying is simple and basic right to Copts and is guaranteed to them by the terms of the constitution. However, it is a concern that the extremists might have imposed their will over the states’ institutions.

According to Egypt’s constitution and a ministerial decree, all the churches in Egypt are licensed.

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