A Coptic diocese in Upper Egypt last week saw its eighth church closed following attacks by villagers protesting against the church building being legally recognised.
Across Egypt, there are thousands of churches informally acknowledged as ‘churches’.
Exactly two years ago, the government introduced a new common law granting church buildings the same rights as mosques. About 3500 pre-existing ‘churches’ were waiting to be legalised at the time: some had been waiting for over 20 years. Discussions to redress the imbalance had fruitlessly been going on since the 1970s.