Egyptian Committee Legalizes New Round of Churches
12/07/2018 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – An Egyptian committee tasked with reviewing applications from churches seeking official recognition approved 168 applications on November 30th. Of these applications, 151 were churches and the remaining 17 will be legalized once missing documentation is provided.
The committee is a result of a law passed by the Egyptian parliament in 2016. The law contained four notable provisions. First, the provincial governor rather than the President is required to approve churches. Second, the church size must be proportional to the Christian population in the area. Third, the church cannot be a security risk. And finally, unlicensed churches built before the law’s passage and deemed structurally sound can gain licensure retroactively. It is estimated that just over 500 churches have been approved since the law’s enactment. Local sources estimate that there are over 3000 applications.
Church legalization is a highly contentious issue in Egypt. Just the mere possibility of a church gaining official recognition can incite a mob of hardline extremists to attack the entire Christian community. Based on the wording of the 2016 law, this possibility is enough to also close a church for an indefinite amount of time.
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