Government legalises 125 churches and places of worship

On 14 November the government committee which oversees the legalisation of churches in Egypt granted legal status to 125 churches and places of worship during a meeting chaired by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

The decision brings the number of churches that have been granted legal status since the committee began its mandate in 2017 to 2526, and follows the legalisation of 239 churches and places of worship at a similar meeting which took place in April 2022.

In Egypt, churches must apply for legal status for their buildings, which in the past had to be approved by the security agencies. However, under the Church Construction Law (Law No. 80 of 2016), which was approved by the Egyptian Parliament on 30 August 2016, the power to approve the building and renovation of churches was extended to provincial governors.

Despite this improvement, the legislation remains discriminatory as the same requirements do not apply to Sunni Muslim houses of worship, and other religious groups, such as the Ahmadi, Baha’i and Shia communities, are not covered by the Law.

At the meeting on 14 November, the government committee also decided that it would invite the heads of the various Christian denominations to its next meeting to exchange ideas about safety and security measures, and how to speed up the process of legalising churches and places of worship.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘Reports that more churches have been legalised in Egypt, bringing the total of churches and places of worship granted legal status since 2017 to over 2,500, are encouraging. This development is indicative of President Sisi’s personal commitment to improve the situation of Egypt’s Christian community, and we urge the president and his government to take this further still by ensuring the same provisions and rights currently enjoyed by the Christian community are extended to all religious and belief groups in Egypt, in line with the nation’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.’