File Photo: The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ is pictured ahead of the Egypt's Coptic Christmas eve Mass, in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), east of Cairo. REUTERS
A cabinet committee in charge of licensing churches operating without a permit has legalised the status of 45 churches and 55 service buildings since May, the cabinet’s spokesman, Nader Saad, said.
This brings the total number of churches and related service buildings legalised by the committee since its establishment in 2017 to 1,738, Saad added.
The announcement came during a meeting headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and attended by a number of state officials, including Minister of Justice Omar Marwan and Minister of Local Development Mahmoud Shaarawy.
The officials have reviewed the status of churches and related buildings which have submitted requests for legalisation since the committee’s last meeting on 18 May, Saad said.
In 2016, Egypt’s parliament approved a long-awaited law regulating the building and renovation of churches. In 2017, the committee was established by the prime minister.
The 10-member committee comprises one Christian representative, six government officials from several ministries, representatives from the national security apparatus, the intelligence apparatus, and the administrative control body.
Egypt's Copts make up about 10-14 percent of the country's 100 million-plus population, according to unofficial statistics, with the vast majority of Christians in Egypt belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church.