Egypt Christians hopeful over draft law on churches

Egypt’s new constitution mandates a new law for building churches in Egypt

Published: Updated:

Egyptian Christians have high hopes that a law proposed by the country’s churches, pending a decision by the new parliament, will be voted in by the end of this year, a legal consultant to the Coptic Catholic Church told a local daily on Monday.

The three main Egyptian churches – Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant - drafted a law on the construction of churches two weeks ago.

“According to the constitution, this law needs to be approved,” Gamal Habib, a legal consultant to the Coptic Catholic Church, told Ahram Online.

Habib said the churches based their proposed law on the country’s new constitution which was ratified in early 2014.

The new constitution mandates a new law for building churches in Egypt, which will be discussed in parliament’s first legislative session.

Ahram Online cited the constitution’s article 235 of the 2014 version as saying that the “parliament, in its first session, has to issue a law related to the regulation of the construction and restoration of churches, in order to guarantee that Christians get the freedom to practice their religious rites.”

Construction of the churches will be similar to the case of building private buildings, according to the draft law, which also hopes to see litigations omitted regarding the ownership of land on which churches have to be built.

If the law is approved, authorities will have to answer a church construction request within 60 days as a lack of response effectively means a green light for construction.

While there were several drafts presented to previous governments with the most recent in 2013, all have been in vain, according to Ahram Online.

The proposed draft law comes after officials at the ministry of transitional justice gathered representatives of different churches and Christian communities in July to task them for propositions to overcome all problems related to the construction of churches.