Legal group rejects places of worship bill

The Lawyers Union for Legal and Democratic Studies has said it rejects the new bill on building places of worship. The group said the bill is unacceptable in its current form because it fails to uphold the principle of a civil state.

In a statement on Sunday, the group said it supports the free, unconditional building of places of worship, but that the legislation focuses on Muslim and Christian places of worship while failing to accommodate other religions.

On 1 June, the Egyptian government approved the new law. Under the law, governors will be authorized to license the building, demolishing, replacing, restoring or modifying of places of worship, so long as certain conditions are followed.

For decades, Egyptian Copts have been calling for a law to unify the standards and conditions of construction for both Muslim and non-Muslim places of worship. The law would replace the “Hamayouni Decree," which is a clause dating from the time of Ottoman rule that regulates church construction and maintenance. The decree stipulates the need to obtain prior approval from the chief executive – the president in modern times – to build a new church or expand or restore an existing one.

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