This article was published at Christianity Today on December 17.
Egyptian Christians now have an additional 168 legal church buildings.
On November 30, a cabinet committee approved the requests of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic churches to formally register facilities long functioning as centers of worship.
Prior to a new law passed in August 2016, churches faced an arduous task to secure recognition by the government. Local authorities could delay or deny paperwork, often on security grounds placating neighborhood Muslim refusal.
CT previously reported how this new law was not without controversy, but that it designed to streamline the process, allow judicial review, and transfer final approval from Egypt’s president to the local governor.
The law also established a committee to review church requests to license existing church facilities. Consisting of the prime minister, ministers of justice, housing, antiquities, and others, it officially convened in January 2017.
A total of 3,730 requests were submitted for approval, pending review of structural soundness and compliance with local regulations. The first batch of 53 church buildings was approved in February of this year.
According to the government statement, the current decree brings the total number of approvals to 508.
“I am pleased,” said Andrea Zaki, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt. “The process has been slow in the beginning, but I think going forward it will be better.”
Zaki is optimistic…
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