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Slow but steady progress for church registrations in Egypt as 64 approvals granted in October


28 October 2019

For the third consecutive month, Egyptian authorities are making steady, if slow, progress with the approval of a further 64 church and church-affiliated building licences announced on 22 October.

This eleventh batch of approvals brings the total number of building licences to 1,235 out of the original 3,730 that applied for registration before the committee began meeting in early 2017.

The tenth batch approved on 23 September granting 62 licences, was the fewest to be approved since March, which saw 156 validated. However, small batches of approvals now seem to be processed every month instead of larger ones with longer gaps between.

Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings were repealed in 2016, but long licensing processing times mean 2,495 church buildings are not yet legal for worship
Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings were repealed in 2016, but long licensing processing times mean 2,495 church buildings are not yet legal for worship

In April 2019, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli made clear to the committee that he wanted the process to speed up. Since its last meeting on 23 September, the committee has reviewed the civil defence requirements that church leaders had complained in August were too stringent but stressed that it is important to fulfil these in order to protect lives and property.  

A total of 2,495 churches are still waiting approval under the Law for Building and Restoring Churches which was introduced in September 2016. A number of churches were already licensed before the new law was brought in. It is illegal to worship in an unlicensed church building, but until the new law was introduced in 2016 it was extremely difficult to gain such a licence.