By Mada Masr –
Analysts criticized Egypt’s draft church construction law that intends to update church-building regulations initially published by the Ottoman Empire in 1856. Last week, the bill was publicly endorsed [Ar] by leaders from Egypt’s Coptic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches. However, loopholes and ambiguities could make the proposed law even more restrictive than the current one, according to Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) researcher Ishak Ibrahim. EIPR has established an online campaign [Ar], titled “Closed for Security Reasons: In Support of a Fair Law for Church Construction,” which supports changes to the proposed legislation.
A copy of draft of the law acquired by newspaper Youm7 indicates that the law would require churches to coordinate with local authorities, who must respond within four months. However, the law does not specify what would entail legitimate grounds for rejecting a proposed church. Additionally, Coptic pastor Anba Makarios said [Ar] the law would do nothing to help address the wave of religious violence against Copts in Egypt. Many of the incidents have been attributed to rumors surrounding the construction of new churches. Last week, Pope Tawadros II and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for “national unity,” and requested that Copts in the United States cease protests against the incidents.