Coptic leaders reject draft law on places of worship
Coptic leaders have rejected the draft law on places of worship
June 11, 2011
objecting to a clause in it that says building a new place of worship is only allowed if it is 1km away from an existing one. They also rejected the stipulation that the construction of a new place of worship depends on gaining the consent of the local governor.
Hany al-Geziry, spokesperson of the Copts for Egypt Movement, said he would present an alternative draft law to the military council and the cabinet, including suggestions mentioned in the four drafts that were recommended before by civil society organizations.
“I prefer a special law for Copts since the government is unable to face up to the extremist Salafi trend,” he said.
A source at the Coptic Church said the 1km condition is not practical, given the density of cities and villages.
Church lawyer Ramses al-Naggar said that by giving the president the right to veto decisions made by governors, the law deprives Copts of their rights as citizens.
He also said the size of a place of worship should not be determined by the state, as stipulated in the draft law.
For his part, Kamal Zakher, coordinator of the Secular Copts Movement, rejected linking the building of places of worship to the size of the Coptic community in a certain area.
Also, Akram Lamei, head of the Anglican Church’s media committee, rejected subjecting the building of a place of worship to the personal whim of an individual, be it the governor or anybody else.
Catholic Church spokesman Rafiq Greish, meanwhile, said that the law should be discussed by all society, and that the comments of the various denomations should be taken into consideration.