A downward trend continues with only 62 churches and church-affiliated building licences approved by Egyptian authorities in the latest batch announced on 23 September – the fewest since March when 156 were validated.
This tenth batch of approvals brings the number of buildings licensed to 1,171, out of the original 3,730 that applied for legalization before the committee began meeting in early 2017.
The slowdown was also evident in August with the approval of only 88 licences. At the time, Christian leaders complained that the civil defence requirements were too stringent and difficult to meet. A total of 2,559 churches and church-affiliated buildings are still waiting for 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.
Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, who chairs the licensing committee, made it clear earlier this year that he wanted the process hurried up. In April, when 111 churches and church-affiliated buildings were legalized, he told members to speed up approvals to clear the backlog of applications that then stood at 2,836.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org