• 21:36
  • Sunday ,09 January 2011

New law on places of worship eyed here

By-Tamer Mohamed-EG

Home News


Sunday ,09 January 2011

New law on places of worship eyed here

CAIRO - The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is looking into an idea to issue a unified law on places of worship for Muslims and Christians. However, the final draft of the bill has yet to take shape, a senior party official said.

  "The party's Policies Committee has already formed a panel to study the current laws on places of worship and the means to reform them in order to make it easier for churches and mosques to be built," said Meghawri Diyab, NDP secretary in the Delta province of Menoufia.

      Diyab, however, rejected an alleged linking between issuing such a bill and combatting terrorism.

     "Terrorism has no specific reason. It targets innocent people with no discrimination," he said.

     Last week, 23 people were killed on New Year's Day in a church bombing in the northern Egyptian port city of Alexandria, sparking riots by Copts who complain of discrimination and accuse the authorities of failing to protect them.

     Coptic Christians account for up to 10 per cent of Egypt's Muslim-dominated population of 82 million.

     Judge Mohamed Assran, who headed a law court assigned with issuing permits for church building, said a unified law for places of worship would be useless.

    "The current laws for building churches and mosques are enough if they are seriously put into effect. Anew law will add nothing. It could just cause

more problems," he said.

      Assran added that the present laws maintain the balance between the nation’s population and the places of worship. 

     "Christians have more than one sect. Each will seek to build more churches and Muslims also have more than one sect, who will do the same. A new law will spark chaos," Assran warned.

     No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which came after threats to Egypt's christians from an al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq that claimed responsibility for an October 31 attack on a Baghdad church.

    In Alexandria, Governor Adel Labib declared that the governorate would start a new project to install surveillance three-dimension cameras in main streets and  squares as well as in other important sites.

    "This project will be implemented in successive phases and will be funded by the Alexandria governorate. It is expected to cover all streets in the city," Labib said.

     He added that the surveillance cameras would be linked to a crisis management room with trained stuff to control the mechanism.

     Ateam of forensic doctors and criminology experts paid a second visit to the scene outside the Al- Qiddissein (Two Saints) Church yesterday to review every little detail before referring their final report to prosecutors on the cause of the bombing.

     "If cameras had been in place and working, things would have been different," Labib told a press conference.

     Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit denied that Egypt had pledged to the European Union that it would protect Copts.

    "Egypt could never tell foreign quarters it would tighten security to protect Copts whatever the relation with them may be," Abul Gheit told diplomatic


    He added that President Hosni Mubarak announced before that Egypt was seriously committed to protect its national security and its citizens against terrorism. 

    "He also said terrorists would never get away with this crime. This is an unequivocal and unshakable Egyptian stance," Abul Gheit added.

Egyptian security authorities are still on high alert after the New Year bombing.