Egypt granted licences to 141 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 4 January – the largest number approved in a single sitting of the Cabinet committee overseeing the process for almost three years.
This is the 22nd batch of approvals and brings the number of churches granted licences to 2,162 out of the 3,730 that applied for registration after a new Law for Building and Restoring Churches swept away Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016.
It is the largest batch approved since March 2019 when the committee, which started its work in 2017, granted 156 licences.
In April 2019, when the number of licences approved dropped to 111, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, who presides over the committee, told members they needed to speed up their work and clear the backlog of unlicensed church buildings as soon as possible.
The committee has met 16 times since March 2019, granting an average of 86 licences per sitting.
Until the committee began work only a few churches were registered and it was extremely difficult to obtain a licence. Congregations are allowed to worship in unlicensed church buildings pending completion of the licensing process.