A priest points with his cross at carving inside Jebel el-Teir Monastery in Minya Upper Egypt in October 2017 - Maher Eskandar A priest points with his cross at carving inside Jebel el-Teir Monastery in Minya Upper Egypt in October 2017 - Maher Eskandar

53 churches to be legalized and re-opened for rites practicing

Mon, Feb. 26, 2018
CAIRO – 26 February 2018: Some 53 churches around the country are set to be legalized by the government during the coming period, according to a statement issued on Monday, February 26, by Egypt’s Cabinet.

It was stated that in accordance with the country’s constitution that adopts “the right to practice religious rites within the different worship houses,” approval was given to study the cases of 53 churches along with several other affiliated buildings to be legalized and approved officially during the Cabinet’s next meeting.

Several conditions were laid out in the statement for the churches to be finally recognized by the government as a legal religious building. These conditions include meeting the requirements for civil protection within a period of four months, as well as fulfilling all the state's rights regarding the rationing of land on which such buildings are built.

After the final approval of the Cabinet, all of the 53 churches are expected to reopen and hold the ordinary religious ceremonies as usual.

Prime Minister Sherif Ismail discussed the 53 churches legal situation during the Churches- Regulating Committee meeting held Monday between Ismail and the ministers of housing, justice, archeology, parliament affairs, and local development as well as representatives of other related organizations.

The Cabinet’s decision comes according to article number 80 for 2016 in Egypt’s law regarding regulating and building churches.

On January 30, Ismail ordered forming the Churches-Regulating High Committee to legalize the (suspended churches); the reasons for suspending those churches include the lack of legal documents for the churches' lands or for establishing the buildings; however, the committee received several complaints that were studied carefully in order for the churches to be legalized and re-opened again for public practicing of religious rites.

According to Egypt’s constitution of 2014, Article 64 states that Freedom of belief is absolute. “The freedom of practicing religious rituals and establishing places of worship for the followers of revealed religions is a right organized by law.”
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