Following the passage of a law regulating the building and renovation of churches in August 2016, this month, the Egyptian Prime Minister formed a ministerial committee, as foreseen in the law, comprised of government officials and representatives from churches and the army, tasked with reviewing the legal status of existing unregistered church buildings. The Intergroup hopes that this committee will prove to be a step forward for legalising places of worship for Christians in Egypt and providing them with the safety and security they deserve.
Dennis de Jong, MEP, co-chair of the Intergroup: “In accordance with international law, the freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief includes the freedom to establish places of worship. I therefore welcome the steps taken by the Egyptian government. However, also under the new law it will be more difficult to establish a church than a mosque, which in itself constitutes discrimination. . Moreover, even if the Coptic Christians will benefit from the new rules, other minority groups, such as the Bahai´s and Jehovah´s witnesses, do not enjoy similar rights. Thus, there remains a lot of work to be done before freedom of religion or belief will be fully respected”.
Peter van Dalen MEP, co-Chair of the Intergroup: “Following the devastating church bombings that took place in December last year, the news of movement towards the legalisation of churches in Egypt, and the subsequent protection that this will afford Christian communities throughout the country, is welcome. However, given that Egypt is placed in the top half of this years World Watch List, there is still much work to be done, in order to alleviate the persecution of Christians, as well as other religious minorities, within the country.“