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Egyptian Committee Legalizes 127 Churches That Were Previously Outlawed

Egyptian Committee Legalizes 127 Churches That Were Previously Outlawed

An Egyptian committee has approved the legalization of 127 churches in the country.

According to CBN News, the churches previously were operating illegally. 

Legal churches must obtain state approval in a process that had been criticized for being too restrictive and slow. In response, thousands of churches set up without permits.

“Egypt has a long history of regulating the building of churches, but many churches were not able to complete this process,” said a release from the International Christian Concern. “Instead, they were built illegally.”

The churches must only be used for religious activities, according to a media release.

But in 2016, the Egyptian government passed a new law that aimed to speed up the legalization process. International Christian Concern says that more than 1,000 churches have been granted permits since the law change.

Under the new law, a cabinet committee of the prime minister and the ministers of justice, housing and antiquities, review church requests for approval.  

In late 2018 after more than 100 churches were approved, the president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt said the process would continue to improve.

“I am pleased,” said Andrea Zaki. “The process has been slow in the beginning, but I think going forward it will be better.”

According to Open Doors USA, Christians in Egypt are still facing daily persecution from the Islamic population, but this is a step in the right direction. Open Doors USA said the Islamic religion "fuels discrimination and creates an environment causing the state to be reluctant to respect and enforce the fundamental rights of Christians.”

The Islamic State group, according to World Watch Monitor, killed more than 100 Coptic Christians in 2017. Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of the population.

Egypt is 16thon the World Watch List for persecution of Christians.

Photo courtesy: Sophia Valkova/Unsplash