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Egypt legalises 166 unlicensed churches

People gather in front of the Saint George church after a bombing struck inside the church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, Egypt on 9 April, 2017 [Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency]
People gather in front of the Saint George church after a bombing struck inside the church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, Egypt on 9 April, 2017 [Ibrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency]

The Egyptian government yesterday approved the legalisation of 166 churches and an unlicensed church service building in several provinces around the country, the Anadolu Agency has reported.

“The legal statuses of 166 churches and a service building in several provinces around Egypt have been approved taking into consideration that all the requirements will be met within four months,” a statement by the Egyptian cabinet read.

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According to the statement, the move comes within the framework of “respect for the provisions of the law and the constitution of providing all Egyptians for the right to practice religious rites.”

In January, the country’s housing minister, Mostafa Madbouly, who was acting prime minister at the time, ordered the expedition of the decision process for all the applications submitted by the churches.

READ: Copts call for action over church closures in southern Egypt

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that some 3,730 church legalisation applications were submitted to the Egyptian authorities.

There are around 15 million Christians in Egypt, according to official data.

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