Egyptian government gives legality to 53 churches

22 March 2018

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A special committee set up to review church registration applications legalised the status of 53 Egyptian churches and related buildings on 26 February, but thousands more still await registration.

In 2016, the Egyptian Parliament voted to abolish Ottoman-era restrictions on church building. A committee was set up to review the applications from churches in January 2017, but did not hold its first meeting until October.

In January 2018, the Egyptian government announced that Christians would be officially allowed to hold meetings in unlicensed buildings, pending their formal recognition as places of worship.

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Thousands of churches in Egypt have never been officially registered. The previous restrictions made the process so difficult that many congregations had no option but to worship illegally in unlicensed buildings.

Despite the repeal of the old restrictions and the announcement that Christians would be allowed to meet without registration, a local court in Atfih handed down a large fine to the owner of an unlicensed church building on 31 January.

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