Fewer churches and church-affiliated buildings were licensed for worship by the authorities in Egypt in the latest batch announced on 5 August amid complaints from Christian leaders that the civil defence requirements were too stringent and difficult to meet.
Only 88 approvals were made by the cabinet-approved committee in charge of the licensing process, compared with 127 announced on 1 July.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, who chaired the meeting of the committee, told civil defence authorities to coordinate with churches over reasonable safety requirements, while asking them to bear in mind the regulations were about protecting life and property.
The new batch of approvals brings the number of buildings licensed to 1,109, out of the original 3,730 churches that applied for legalisation before the committee began meeting in early 2017.
A total of 2,621 churches are still waiting approval under the Law for Building and Restoring Churches introduced in September 2016. A number of churches were already licensed before the new law was brought in.
Madbouli has in the past urged the committee to expedite its work. In April , when 111 churches and church-affiliated buildings were legalised, he told members to speed up on approvals to clear the backlog of applications that then stood at 2,836.