Egyptian Churches Encounter Administrative Hurdles on Path to Legal Status

Thursday, August 15, 2019

by Jordan Hilger, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - As Egypt continues to go through the process of becoming more officially inclusive of Coptic Christianity, many Christian leaders complained on August 5th that fewer churches had been granted legal status this time around by the presidential committee appointed for the task by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Whereas in August 88 places of worship were granted legal status by the committee helmed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, in July as many as 127 had been approved, with church leaders citing overly stringent safety requirements as the reason for the thinning numbers of the latest round.

American Christian leaders praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in January when he gifted the Egyptian Coptic Community the largest church to-date in the Middle East, in what many saw as a sea change following the Islamist terror attacks that had riven the country and targeted Christians for almost a decade since the Arab Spring.

“The American people deserve to know that where once a group of dangerous fanatics ruled, we now have a great friend and faithful ally in Egypt,” author Joel C. Rosenberg, who attended the inauguration of the Nativity of the Christ cathedral along with Sisi himself and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, wrote for the Christian Post in January.

Sisi’s government has so far legalized 1,109 out of the 3,730 churches that have applied for legal permits, with an additional 5,000 churches granted permission to operate while they await legal status, compared with only 2,500 that were ever considered legal in Egypt over the last 150 years, according to Rosenberg.