About a year ago, on August 30 of last year, after more than three hours of deliberation and consultation, more than two-thirds of Egyptian MPs raised their hands, announcing their approval of the law on church building.
A long journey of struggle extended from The Hamayoni Decree in 1856, until the new Egyptian constitution stipulated that the state guarantees the freedom of belief and freedom to practice religious rites. The MP’s clung to the idea that a law must be issued on building churches, to be discussed in the first session of parliament.
It is true that The Salafi Al-Nour Party did not announce its approval and its MPs did not raise their hands and did not repeat “long lives the crescent with the Cross” but the law has been passed peacefully and was approved. Now is the time of implementation, after a long wait, the time of has come to commit to the issue of licenses to build churches, and in a specific legal period that does not exceed four months, without procrastination, disruption or unjustified rejection. Its time to prove that Egypt is a true state of law with equal rights among its citizens and that it guarantees human rights and guarantees freedom of religious practice for all, including Egyptian Copts of all sects.
Many long years have passed without a real and strong confrontation with the opponents of church and monastery construction in Egypt because Copts, like Muslims, have increased in numbers. There are numerous unlicensed churches which has been the only way for them to hold their prayers and religious rituals out of the streets, and away from fanatics.
It is time to admit that many of those responsible for issuing licenses – despite the fulfillment of the conditions – have failed due to fear, caution or prejudice against Copts in a majority Muslim population. This is wrong and unfair and does not show any compassion, humanity or understanding of the meaning of citizenship. It is time to change these views through the authority of the government, without waiting for the approval of opponents, which will not come.
In Egypt, now there are nearly three thousand requests for from the Coptic community for churches that meet all building requirements, that seek to legalize their houses of worship and obtain a license. Will they receive a path to justice and humanity or get stomped on by rejection? Will their buildings be added to the houses of worship that are being visited and maintained in Egypt, like mosques, or will opponents threaten them with loud voices? A few days ago, the Pope of the Vatican blessed an icon of the Holy Family trip to Egypt, announcing with the Minister of Tourism that the path of the Holy Family will be included on the map of Egyptian tourism. The news means that thousands of Christians will be coming to us, so let’s make the land of Egypt a blessed one, with the belief of humanitarian unity and justice as the basis of governance.