Date:  May 21, 2022

Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised. (Psalm 113:2-3)

This morning we give thanks that 239 churches and places of worship were granted legal status in Egypt, following a meeting on 20 April chaired by the country’s Prime Minister. This means that 2,401 churches have been legalised since 2016, when provincial governors were given the power to approve church buildings.

While we thank God for the legalisation of each of these churches, their new status does not always guarantee a smooth building process.

In areas where societal hostility remains high, Christian communities can still face obstacles when attempting to construct or maintain their church buildings, and in some cases they have had to fulfil certain requirements to avoid losing legal status.

We are praying and calling for the total reform of this legislation, which does not apply to Sunni Muslim houses of worship. Worse still, other religious groups – such as the Ahmadi, Baha’i and Shi’a communities – don’t enjoy even the limited rights that Christians are granted.

Pray also for an end to extra-legal 'reconciliation' sessions, which are often used to settle disputes about new churches. These sessions take place outside of the legal system, depriving victims of the justice they deserve by coercing them to accept a settlement. Meanwhile, the perpetrator gets away with their offence.

Give thanks for prisoners released

Nine Coptic Christians were released from prison on 23 April, having been arrested in January for protesting. They were demanding permission to rebuild a church in their village in Minya Governate that had suspiciously burnt down in 2016.

41 political activists were released from pre-trial detention on the same day.

We pray that all of these releases will be permanent and unconditional, and we’re hoping these encouraging developments indicate an increased willingness on the part of the Egyptian authorities to engage in political dialogue, with the aim of improving the country’s human rights situation.

In summary, please pray:

  • Giving thanks that 239 churches and places of worship recently received legal status. Pray against harassment, obstruction and unwarranted additional obligations.
  • For the law governing the construction of places of worship to be reformed, giving equal rights and protections to people of every religion or belief.
  • That every prisoner released on 23 April will be able to enjoy their freedom without fearing further arrest.
  • For continuing improvements in the country’s human rights situation.