EGYPT: Parliament Pass Law Governing Construction of New Churches

CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 2, 2016(CISA) – Egyptian parliament has passed a law governing the construction of new churches.

The new law empowers provincial governors to approve church building and renovation permits, previously the domain of security services. Church officials see it as a step in the right direction, but human rights advocates and some Christian members of Parliament said it was prejudiced.

“This is a sectarian law that shows the state prefers the adherents of one religion over another,” Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper quoted Ishak Ibrahim of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights as saying.

“A unified law would show that the state protects the rights of all its citizens equally,” said Ibrahim adding that “It would send a message to extremists.”

Activists have long campaigned for a unified places-of-worship law to govern mosques and churches. The law on mosque building, issued in 2001, is much less restrictive and discusses only issues of land ownership and building regulations.

Egyptian Christians make up about a tenth of the country’s 90 million people and are the Middle East’s largest Christian community.

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