Saturday, September 3, 2016

Egypt's Christians Face Fewer Restrictions on Building Churches

Are Egyptian Christians facing fewer restrictions to practicing their faith?

Egypt is the most populous Arab country in the Middle East.

Of the 90 million people who live there, 9 million are Christians.

They face unprecedented persecution in their country, although they had enjoyed more protection under the rule of Hosni Mubarak.

When the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammad Morsi took power, Islamic extremism reigned and threatened Egyptian Christians. I have heard terrible stories where local leaders will not stand up to aggressive and abusive Islamic militants.

These extremists take land, property, money, from Christians, and the local authorities do nothing.

This is outrageous!

Hopefully, these news laws will help the Christian community to flourish in Egypt.

Egypt’s parliament approved a new church-building law this week, relieving the nearly insurmountable requirements—some set by the Ottoman Caliphate in 1856—that Christians had to meet before constructing a church.

Whatever happened to religious liberty? 

In Islamic countries like Egypt, tolerance is just a four letter word with little meaning.

Thankfully, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has taken charge and is standing up to Islamic extremism.

He has uestioned Muslim theologians and told them plainly "Islam has a problem!".

Along with asking the president and local Muslims for permission, Christians couldn’t build near mosques, schools, village canals, railways, government offices, government facilities, or between residential areas.

What is it about Christians that bothers people?

The Muslim faith demands violence and hatred toward those who do not submit to Allah. They are the ones who should be quarantined, then, and not the peaceful Christian minority.

The bill, which gained the two-thirds majority it needed for approval, still places more restrictions on building churches than on building mosques. But several Coptic MPs said it was “a step in the right direction,” according to Ahram Online.

Any step towards freedom and equity is a step in the right direction. Always.

No, there should be no restrictions on building churches. How about a restriction on building mosques? Or how about ending the untrammeled hatred of Jews and Christians?

The 13-article law allows provincial governors—instead of the president—to approve church building or restoration permits, and requires a decision from them within four months of an application. The law also limits church size to the number of Christians in the area, but states that population growth must be taken into account.

Let us pray that there will be more Christians who come out and pray in Egypt.

A parliamentary report said the law’s clearly laid out procedures will make church construction easier to achieve. The report also commended a provision allowing unregistered churches to operate freely until a government committee can determine whether they are structurally sound and, if so, retroactively grant them a license to operate.

Fair enough. Perhaps governors will recognize that Christians and their beliefs are a sound investment for this country.

I have studied Egyptian history, and I learned about the culture during a course I took in Los Angeles. No one made mention of the horrific inequality forced upon Christians. The course spent more time playing apologist for the Palestinian state and the pro-Islamic, anti-Semitic propaganda.

The law met the main requirements—the authorization of unlicensed churches and the ability to put crosses on church domes—of Orthodox, Catholic, and Coptic church leaders and gained their approval. But not everyone was happy with the outcome.

There are critics of the law, as there should be. Truth and honor for the Christian community of Egypt should not stop with easing the restrictions and regulations on churches.

“Article I defines a church as a ‘walled stand-alone building,’ a condition which cannot be met in many villages,” said one anonymous source, which World Watch Monitor translated from Arabic website DotEgypt. “Article II makes the area of a proposed church contingent on ‘the need and number’ of local Christians. Who decides that Christians need or do not need a church in any given locality? As for ‘numbers,’ they’ve always been contested, as the State inexplicably refuses to put a number to the Christian population.”

These are worthy remarks. Churches should not be decided solely by bureaucrats and their entanglements. Corruption remains a huge problem in Egypt, too.

The success of the law depends on the good intentions of governors and other state officials, Coptic Orthodox Church bishop Makarios told Reuters.

Rafik Greish, a spokesman for the Coptic Catholic Church, called it “a massive jump after 160 years of legislation governing church building and renovation.”

Final Reflection

This is an interesting move.

No, the reforms are not enough.

But any steps toward freedom and protection for the Christian minority in Egypt is a win.

I wonder what else it will take for these countries to realize that persecuting a blessed minority, Christians who bring peace and prosperity to their communities -- is not a good idea.

Muslim countries will not survive based on their ideological extremism.

There is no civilization without civility, and any religion which teaches its adherents to kill those who do not adhere to their own dictates cannot be counted as civil.

Let's continue to pray for the Egyptian Christians, that they will not be afraid to step out in faith, knowing that because God is for them, it does not matter who is against them! (Romans 8:37)

1 comment:

  1. Very revealing article. I agree and the MSM is not reporting on this at all.