EGYPT: Bill on Construction of Churches Await Final Approval

CAIRO AUGUST 30, 2016 (CISA) – Two laws on the construction of churches and the Civil Service law, have passed from the State Council’s legislative revision department to be looked into by the House of Representatives for final approval.

The law is to be discussed inside the parliament, as is required by the constitution in order to issue it before the end of the parliament’s first legislative year, Egypt’s state-media MENA reported August 28.

The draft law whose latest version was prepared by the government last Thursday, August 25 was revised by Council of State and submitted by the government after much back and forth dialogue with the three major Egyptian churches over restrictions imposed on the licensing of churches.

After having passed the scrutiny of the Council of State, the draft law will be submitted by the Egyptian parliament. Last week August 24, the Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church had expressed its consent to the proposed law in what it termed as “unacceptable alterations and impractical additions” to the law which it said  “will pose a danger to Egyptian national unity because of the complications and obstacles that [the law] contains.”

Many within the Egyptian Christian community are critical especially about Article 5 of the bill, which states that the construction of new churches is authorized by governors “with the necessary coordination of the authorities concerned.”

Many fear that this indefinite term will allow local authorities and security forces to exercise more vetoes on the construction of new buildings of Christian worship, especially in the areas marked by sectarian conflicts.

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