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Church-building bill to be debated in Egypt parliament Tuesday

Parliament will discuss a landmark law that will make it easier for Christians to build churches

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 30 Aug 2016
the Coptic Hanging Church in Old Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016 (AP)
Christian children hang around the Coptic Hanging Church in Old Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016 (AP)
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The speaker of Egypt's parliament, Ali Abdel-Al, said on Monday that a landmark law aimed at regulating the construction and restoration of churches will be debated in a plenary session Tuesday.
 
"This is a historic law and I urge all MPs to attend tomorrow's session to see how the crescent and the cross will embrace each other," said Abdel-Aal on Monday.
 
He explained that Egypt's governments have refrained from drafting such a kind of law for more than 150 years. "It will be recorded in history that it is your parliament that decided to discuss this law," said Abdel-Al, also adding that "it will be a big victory for both parliament and the government to issue such a law."
 
The nine-article bill on the construction and restoration of churches faced some opposition from Christian sects, but after amendments were introduced it gained consensus on 25 August.
 
Article 1 gives definitions of the words "church" and "a sect leader". Article 2 states that the size of the church should be in proportion to the number and need of Christians living in the affiliated neighbourhood. Articles 3 and 4 state that the legal representative of a Christian sect is the one who submits an official request to the affiliated provincial governor to obtain a permit for building or demolishing a church. 
 
Article 5 was amended to state that provincial governors must - rather than consider doing so - give a final say on the church building request within four months only. If the request is rejected, provincial governors must give detailed reasons for this rejection. 
 
The remaining articles state that all existing churches, their annexes or affiliated worship places should be considered licenced and viable for exercising all Christian rituals. 
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