Govt fully coordinating with Church on draft church building law: Egypt's PM

Ahram Online , Tuesday 23 Aug 2016

The long-awaited government bill is hoped to put an end to obstacles to the restoration and building of churches in Egypt

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said Tuesday the government is in “constant coordination” with the Coptic Orthodox Church on the drafting of the church building law, state news agency MENA reported.

The long-awaited bill is expected by Coptic Christians to put an end to long-standing bureaucratic obstacles that stymie the building and restoration of churches.

The cabinet was meant to finalise the law last week to present to parliament by 21 August, but a stalemate was reached when the government proposed new additions to the bill, only to be rejected by the Church.

The bill has been criticised for keeping the authority to grant permits for the building and restoration of churches in the hands of governors in each province.

Ismail, who met with Pope Tawadros on Monday night, said the government is in talks with the Church around the clock to finalise the bill, which then would be reviewed and voted on by parliament.

There are no recent official figures on the number of Christians in Egypt, but many estimates put the figure at around 10 percent of Egypt's population of 91 million. The Church says the number of Christians is substantially higher.

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