CAIRO: Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawy said Muslims are allowed to donate money to build churches, in a meeting with the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization headed by Coptic lawyer and activist Naguib Gobrael.
“Islamic Sharia does not prohibit Muslims from sponsoring or funding a church, Tantawy said.
Tantawy lauded the new law pertaining to places of worship, facilitating regulations to build churches.
He added that he “personally does not mind that a church be built on every street side to side with a mosque.
In October 2007, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) finalized a draft law regulating the construction of churches and mosques and sent it to the People’s Assembly to be discussed.
The new law is meant to replace the current one which regulates the construction, expansion, and renovation of houses of worship. It is expected to equate regulations to build churches with those of mosques.
It includes 11 articles and mainly seeks to facilitate the process as well as create specialized courts to deal with lawsuits related to disputes over places of worship.
Under the current law, the governor’s permission is needed to construct a new church, while the building of a new mosque carries no such requirement.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera last week, Mustafa El-Fiqi, head of the PA’s foreign affairs committee, said discussions of the new law was put on hold because “the circumstances in Egypt do not allow issuing such law now.
According to El-Fiqi, there is an increase in Islamic movements in Egypt and the government is concerned that passing the law now might have repercussions.
However, on his part, El-Fiqi approves the law, acknowledging that “there is discrimination against Copts in Egypt, evident in laws regulating building churches and the small number of Copts occupying top government positions.