The Egyptian Cabinet-affiliated committee responsible for the licensing of churches approved 76 more registrations on Sunday 25 July.This twentieth batch of registrations brings the total number of licensed churches to 1,958 out of a total of 3,730 which applied for registration following the repeal of Ottoman-era restrictions on church buildings in 2016.
It remains a legal requirement for churches to be registered, but Christians are allowed to worship in unlicensed church buildings pending completion of the licensing process.
Until the committee began work in early 2017 only a few churches were registered and it was extremely difficult to obtain a licence. The government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has worked steadily to legalise church buildings, reaching the halfway mark in April 2021.
President al-Sisi has often condemned attacks on Christians and spoken supportively about the Christian community, which makes up about 10% of the population. Christians, however, still face community pressures including violent attacks from Egyptian Muslims who do not agree with the government’s policy of toleration and support.