The U.S. Copts Association reports that “in yet another demonstration of the discriminate nature of the local governments of Egypt, local officials revoked a building license granted to the Brethren Church of Assiout. U.S. Copts Association received notification that after waiting for several years for permission to demolish and rebuild their church, the Church of the Brethren received notification of the retraction of the license after the demolition of the church.
“The Church of the Brethren in Assiout, Egypt was an old church in serious need of repair. Built in 1900, the congregation had long outgrown its dilapidated walls, and members feared that the church’s condition had become a risk to the worshippers’ safety. Plans were made to demolish the church, and rebuild a new one in its place. Consequently, in 1997, the church began the process of requesting a license from the local government for the demolition and reconstruction of the building.
“Approximately four years after the church’s initial request, a license was granted on June 29, 2001. Soon thereafter, the old building was razed, but to the horror of the church members, the license for the rebuilding of the church was abruptly revoked. Church members were given no reasons for this unexpected retraction, and were left with no building or place of worship.
Might it be due to the influence of the Sharia legal provision that Christians “are forbidden to build new churches” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o11.5(7))?
“The seriously disturbing nature of this incident sheds light on the local government’s behavior towards the Christian minority. Indeed, this incident marks the second time that the local government, under the direct influence of the governor of Assiout, has obstructed efforts by Christians to renovate their rundown churches this year alone.”