Egyptian court rules it is illegal to demolish any church

via Barnabas Fund

A court in Alexandria has blocked the demolition of a church and in doing so set an important legal precedent. The case arose out of a land dispute as to who owned the property the church was built on. However, the Egyptian court not only blocked the demolition of this particular church building, but also established a wider legal precedent that effectively banned other churches from being either destroyed or converted for other uses.

Until recently Egyptian Christians needed special permission from the president to repair churches, which was extremely difficult to obtain. To add to these difficulties many churches were destroyed by Islamists after the Muslim Brotherhood was ousted from power in 2013.

However, what is significant about this new court ruling was that the court interpreted sharia to mean that it was forbidden to destroy any church building. The ruling reflects the new Egyptian constitution introduced in 2014 after the overthrow of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. Although this stipulates that the principles of sharia are the main sources of the constitution, it also states that the actual interpretation of those principles should be done by the Supreme Constitutional Court. After consulting Al Azhar University, the court ruled that churches could not be demolished because the Supreme Constitutional Court “equates the mosque and the church as houses of worship.”

The ruling is a further encouragement for Egyptian Christians after President al Sisi promised in January this year to rebuild and repair all churches that had been destroyed in the 2013 violence.

Prayer points

  • ‘First the natural, then the spiritual’ (1 Cor.15:46).
  • Thank the Lord that He has stretched forth His arm and shown Himself strong on our behalf. He is the God who holds in his hands the hearts of presidents and judges and who intervenes to protect His people.
  • Pray that there will be much encouragement and increase among the Egyptian Christians and that more and more Muslims will be swept into the kingdom.  ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ’.  May these beloved brethren be steadfast, confident of divine protection, and abounding in the work of the Lord.

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Photo: An Arabic Bible sits at the back of a pew in St. Mark Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt. Credit: Evgeni Zotov/Flickr CC

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