The government Committee for the Legalization of Unlicensed Churches in Egypt, has legalized the status of 70 churches and affiliated buildings, bringing the number of churches and buildings legalized since the committee began its work to 1,638.
This is coming just a year after Egypt’s president Abdul Fattah al-Sisi opened the largest Church in Egypt and the Middle East.
The committee reviewed the developments that have taken place since its last meeting on March 29 with regard to the situation of churches and affiliated service buildings, according to Spokesperson for the Prime Minister, Nader Saad.
Formed in January 2017, the Committee for the Legalization of Unlicensed Churches comprises the ministers of justice, parliamentary affairs, and local development and housing, as well as representatives of local authorities and Christian communities, according to Egypt Independent.
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly chaired the committee meeting in the presence of the ministers of justice, parliamentary affairs, local development and housing, as well as representatives of local authorities and Christian communities.
Since 2017, the committee has legalized 1,638 churches.
Prior to the law being passed, it was notoriously difficult to get state approval and, therefore, congregations could find themselves at risk of prosecution.
While the committee still has many churches to legalize, this is promising hope for a country in which Coptic Christians have faced fierce levels of violence and persecution for decades.
Recall that Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi last year inaugurated the country’s largest cathedral and the Largest Church In the Middle East.
According to Persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, the country’s Christians still face daily persecution from groups within the Islamic-majority population, as well as mistreatment from the government itself.
The Islamic culture “fuels discrimination and creates an environment causing the state to be reluctant to respect and enforce the fundamental rights of Christians,” Open Doors explains on its Egypt fact page.
Egypt ranks 16th on Christian support organization Open Doors 2020 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.