EGYPT: Orthodox Church, Govt Reach Agreement on Church Building Law

CAIRO AUGUST 26, 2016(CISA) – The Coptic Orthodox Church has reached an agreement with the government on the articulation of the church building and renovation draft law.

The church stated that the phrasing of the draft law was agreed upon through discussion between the representatives of the church and state officials, including President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Sherief Ismail.

Spokespersons of the Evangelical Church and the Catholic Church told Egypt’ Aswat Masriya Newspaper that they had approved the Orthodox Church’s decision.

The bill has yet to be reviewed by the Council of Ministers and the parliament.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on August 23 that the government is keen to fully cooperate with the Coptic Orthodox Church in releasing a draft law to organize the building of churches.

Meanwhile, the parliament is waiting to review the draft law after it passes through the State Council and the cabinet as per the provisions of the Egyptian constitution.

Egypt’s 2014 constitution states: “In its first legislative term following the effective date of this Constitution, the House of Representatives shall issue a law to regulate constructing and renovating churches, in a manner that guarantees the freedom to practice religious rituals for Christians.”

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church said last week that they were disappointed after its representatives attended a meeting with governmental officials to discuss the draft bill.

“The Church was surprised to find unacceptable alterations and impractical additions and it announced that they will pose a danger to Egyptian national unity because of the complications and obstacles that [the law] contains,” the Church wrote in an official statement.

Following the Orthodox Church’s announcement that an agreement with the government has been reached, young Christians began an initiative to collect signatures in opposition to the draft law.

A member of the campaign and rights activist, Ramy Kamel, said that the petition aims to raise awareness about the “dangers” of the draft law as it “outwardly defies the values of citizenship stated in the constitution.”

Leave a Reply