08/23/2019 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – Copts United reports the death of a 4-year-old Egyptian child, Youssef Ebid, who was struck by a tractor while waiting for a bus to take him to church. The Minya diocese in Upper Egypt reports that there are 50 villages where Christians have not received approval to build churches. Youssef was from one such village. As a result, Christians are forced to travel long distances and occasionally accidents happen along the way.
Construction of churches has long been a contentious issue in Egypt. Prior to 2016, the bureaucracy for approval was so stacked that the President was even required to personally sign each official license. A law was passed in 2016 that attempted to streamline the process. Licenses can be granted at a governorate level, and a committee established to register the backlog of churches which were illegally constructed prior to 2016.
The committee has legalized just over 1,000 existing churches in three years—which represents less than half of the pending applications. There are concerns that the committee’s slow approval process furthers persecution. Meanwhile, although the committee has legalized existing churches, their record on legalizing applications for new church construction is nearly nonexistent. This further calls into question whether Egypt will ever grant Christians the right to worship in their own villages.
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