Egyptian president confirms construction of churches in each new city

03/14/2022 Egypt (International Christian Concern) – President Abdel Fattah al Sisi has confirmed Egypt’s initiative to build a church in every newly built town saying, “Where there is a mosque, there must also be a church. And if the church to be built will only be attended by 100 people, it must be built anyway. The country’s urban development program includes regulations that a church should be built as part of urban planning.

These churches are exempt from the 2016 law which regulates non-Muslim worship and requires all churches to receive permission for renovation, construction and demolition. Although the presidential announcement and commitment to building churches has been celebrated by Orthodox and Evangelical communities across the country, the building of the new church has one major downside.

Whether intentional or not, the new regulations severely limit and pose a threat to believers of Muslim background (MBB) in Egypt. Al-Sisi continued his statements above by adding, “This way, no one will have to meet in an apartment and present this private house as a church.” MBBs generally cannot enter normal, clearly marked churches for fear of persecution by their Muslim community or family. Instead, MBBs and those seeking to share the gospel with their Muslim neighbors use house churches, meeting in homes. If residents of new towns face crackdowns on house churches when church buildings already exist, MBBs could become less common or be driven to surrounding areas where house churches are still unregulated.

Since the law was ratified in 2016, the Christian Places of Worship Legalization Committee has met 20 times and issued permits for 1,958 buildings. Thousands of buildings are still waiting for their permit and many more are still applying for renovation permission.

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