Cairo (Agenzia Fides) – The start of parliamentary debate on the new Egyptian law that should regulate the construction of churches and places of worship had been announced for the end of May, but almost two months later, the text of bill has not yet been brought into parliament, and is subjected to constant changes. The delays are of concern in the Churches and Christian communities in Egypt. Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, in a recent interview, reported he often prays for the intention that the legislative process of the new law will soon be accomplished.
Egyptian sources consulted by Agenzia Fides, reported that Anba Paula, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Tanta, continues, as representative of Churches, to meet with officials of the Ministry of Justice and the competent parliamentary committees to make further adjustments to the text, so that it can be approved and does not risk being rejected in court by a parliamentary vote against.
The bill, presented to the relevant parliamentary offices in mid-May (see Fides 16/05/2016) consisted of 13 articles. In the draft it recognized among other things the right of Bishops to appeal to the State Council for delays imposed in an unnatural manner concerning procedures for the construction of new churches.
The new legislation, should lead to the total filing of the rules laid out by the so-called “Hamayoni Decree”, the law which dates back to the Ottoman period which is the cause of many disputes at a local level. According to these rules, the construction of Christian churches is subject to obligations that do not weigh on the construction of mosques, such as the ban on the construction of Christian places of worship close to schools, canals, government buildings, railways and residential areas. (