Egypt church application triggers attack
Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has called for the process of legalising unlicensed churches to be “speeded up” after granting a second batch of church buildings official status this week.
The government has legalised 219 churches and church-affiliated buildings this year, but 3,511 others remain on the waiting list.
The churches were built without licence as it was “next to impossible” to build or restore a church until the Law for Building and Restoring Churches was passed in September 2016. The demand for official church buildings is a response to growing congregations and the declining condition of existing churches, according to Coptic news site Watani.
The church’s 700 Coptic members, who had used the building as a church for 10 years, had also applied for the building to be expanded.
Local sources told World Watch Monitor that Muslim villagers had heard about the morning inspection and then, at about 7pm, attacked the church and some nearby Coptic homes.
“Many Muslim young men from our village and villages nearby gathered in front of the church building and began pelting it with stones and bricks while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ [Allah is the greatest], and ‘We don’t want a church in our village’,” said Medhat Halim, a resident in the village.
“Windows and a door were smashed and some of the church’s contents destroyed. They also pelted Coptic-owned houses next to the building. Five Copts received minor injuries.”