Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to build a church bearing the names of the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians, who were beheaded in a video that surfaced on social media on Feb. 15 by the Islamic State in Libya, is not being well received by members of the local community.
The absence of a law regulating the construction of houses of worship generally, specifically churches has placed the matter in the hands of hard-line religious groups. Martyrs’ Church” for the slain Copts in el-Our village the hometown of 13 of the victims in Egypt’s Minya province was rejected by some hard-line Muslims inhabiting the village.
Egyptian news websites reported on March 28 that clashes erupted between some Muslims and Christians in a dispute over building the church, resulting in 12 wounded and seven arrested.
Representatives of Egypt’s three churches — Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical — had prepared a draft law to regulate the construction of churches in Egypt, and it should have been passed along to the parliament, but parliamentary elections put it on hold after the court struck it down.
While there are several campaigns to fight radical thinking, objections to building or renovating churches has nonetheless become common, and the nonbinding customary sessions seem to continue to take precedence over the law.