Middle East

Churches Gain, Islamists Lose in Latest Draft of Egypt's Constitution

For the first time, right to build churches guaranteed in charter cautiously endorsed by Amnesty International.

Egyptian Christians will soon have a law to regulate church building. But this is only one achievement celebrated by Copts in the revised national charter scrubbed of most of its Islamist tinge.

"Christians have freedom of belief and practice," said Safwat al-Baiady, president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt and a member of the constitutional committee. "And for the first time in the history of Egypt's constitutions, building churches becomes a right."

Article 235 of the new draft constitution addressed this longstanding complaint, where permission to build or repair required presidential and security authorization.

Egypt's constitution of 2012, written by an Islamist majority under the now-deposed president Mohamed Morsi, also provided for many personal and religious freedoms. But that text included clauses of limitation "according to shari'ah law."

Negotiations with the ultraconservative Salafi Muslim Nour Party, which supported ...

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