The onerous burdens on Christians who want to have their own churches in the Islam-oriented Egypt, dating to about 1856 during the Ottoman Empire, are starting to ease, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

At that time, Christians had to obtain the sultan’s permission to build a church, and more conditions, such as obtaining permission from Muslim groups, were added later.

However, now there’s been a new law adopted that is beginning to lift some of those demands.

An update that was negotiated with the government by officials for Orthodox, evangelical and Catholic Christians recently got “final presidential approval,” according to a new report from the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Reported the organization, “The Egyptian government, along with Coptic church representatives from around the country, joined forces to promote a law regulating the construction and renovation of churches in Egypt.”

“The new law regulates the construction and renovation of churches and related structures, and sets out a legal definition of the term ‘church’ and other relevant terms. Under it, the Coptic Church’s legal counsel would submit a request to build or renovate a church to the local governor, who has four months to respond; if he denies the request he must give his reasons in detail. The law also states that the size of the church and adjacent structures will be set in accordance with population sizes and requirements,” the report said.

The plan had been mostly agreed to several months ago, but a late disagreement developed because of the section stating, “The size of the church and of the accompanying structure for which the [building] permit is filed must be in accordance with the number and needs of the Christians in the area where it will be established, taking into consideration the population growth rate…”

MEMRI said some church elements criticized that because, they pointed out, there were no such size restrictions on Muslim mosques.

Critics also challenged that it “sets Christians apart from the rest of Egyptian society,” and such issues as the construction of Christian churches should have been addressed “in a broader, more general law regulation the construction of all places of worship.”

For the rest of this report, and more, go to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

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