Egyptian Christians Critical of Parliament’s New Church Construction Law

Egyptian Christians Critical of Parliament’s New Church Construction Law

26 views
0

Local Leader Claims New Law Maintains Unreasonable Restrictions on Christian Community

09/01/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the Egyptian Parliament has approved the long-awaited church construction law that was meant to ease restrictions Christians face in regards to building churches. The law was approved on Tuesday, August 30, with the majority of MPs voting for it.

The new law was originally an eight article bill that would reduce regulations on church construction by setting a four-month limit on processing requests for construction. This was almost a direct response to the recent upsurge of attacks against Christians, many prompted by rumors of ‘illegal’ churches being constructed.

This new law has faced heavy criticism, not only from the Muslim majority, but from the Christian community as well. A number of amendments were added to the original bill ensuring procedural hurdles Christians must overcome in order to build places of worship.

The primary points of criticism were: the size of the church must directly correlate with the Christian population in the neighborhood, the local government may take security and public order into account during the decision-making process, and security forces have a final say in the approval. This last amendment is of particular concern to Christian leaders who claim that local security forces have a well-known bias against their community.

While some say that this new law is at least a progressive step in the right direction for Egypt, many Christian leaders disagree.

“The law in its current form includes harsh conditions and obstacles for the building of churches,” an Orthodox Church leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ICC.”The law does not achieve the primary objective of eliminating one of the root causes of sectarian tensions in Egypt. Instead, the state has reproduced it.”

Another local church leader, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ICC, “The role of government should be limited to respect the right to build and the freedom of religious practice. The law is full of actions which represent obstacles not only to the construction of churches, but renovating and expanding them as well.”

The Christian population of Egypt makes up 10% of the country as a whole. Church building restrictions have been a sensitive contention point for sectarian violence for decades. This new law, while a step in the right direction, still enshrines restrictions against Christians, leaving them in a second-class living situation.

William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “We are joyful that the Egyptian government is making an effort to relieve the restrictions on the Christian population, but are not satisfied with the regulations accompanying this new law. The Christian population should not have to be deemed ‘worthy’ of a church by local officials, but should rather have the absolute freedom to worship under the protection of said authority. ICC insists that the regulations accompanying this law be eliminated in a legal and timely manner. We still hope that this law will lead Egypt in the direction of full and uncontested religious equality for all Egyptians, including Christians.”

For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

ICC is a Washington D.C.-based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  www.persecution.org

Photo Credit: A statue stands outside the Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cairo, Egypt March 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany   Reuters.com

 

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK 

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America, originally commissioned by SCOBA to create a national, sustainable, and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity and seekers around the world through media ministry.  CLICK HERE to download our brochure.

This 501(c)3 is recognized as a leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty years. OCN shares the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week. Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure that OCN may continue to offer free, high-quality, Orthodox media.

Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy!  Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.

donate now

ORTHODOX MOBILE APPS ARE HERE!

Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.

_______________________________________________________________________
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, Google+,  Pinterest,  LinkedIn  and  Instagram

About author
avatar

Orthodox Christian News

Orthodox Christian Network brings you news of events and people important to the life of the Orthodox Church around the world. OCN highlights media organizations that track these important stories.