FILE - An Egyptian Catholic woman lights candle during a mass on Christmas eve at Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in the capital of Cairo, Egypt December 24
CAIRO - 1 July 2019: A presidential committee tasked with rectifying the status of unlicensed Christian places of worship chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, approved on Monday legalizing 127 churches and service buildings that used to be operating without permit.
This brings to 1,021 the total number of unlicensed Christian places of worship and service buildings that have been granted legal status so far.
According to a statement issued by the Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad on Monday that the committee was attended by the ministers of justice, antiquities and parliamentary affairs along with representatives of the bodies concerned.
The meeting also reviewed the outcome of studies conducted over the past four months to consider applications submitted by unlicensed churches aiming to legalize their status.
Meanwhile, the premier issued strict instructions to all governors to take all measures necessary to ensure that the newly legalized churches and service buildings are only used for performing religious rituals.
In December 2018, the committee concerned with legalizing unlicensed churches also announced legalizing as many as 80 churches and church-affiliated service buildings.
The Cabinet’s decision comes according to 2016's article number 80 in Egypt’s law regarding regulating and building churches. Antiquities and parliament affairs ministers as well as representatives of relevant bodies participated in the meeting.
In October, 76 churches and 44 affiliated buildings were licensed.
It was stated in February, during the term of former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, 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 affiliated buildings to be legalized and licensed officially during the Cabinet’s next meeting.
Several conditions were laid in the statement for the churches to be finally recognized by the government as legal religious buildings. 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.
The approval may be withdrawn if the buildings do not finish civil protection facilities in four months.