After waiting more than two decades, churches in Egypt finally are allowed to rebuild their houses of worship, according to World Watch Monitor.
In the southern rural part of the country, in an area known as the Minya governorate, the governor gave 21 churches the green light to rebuild and expand.
Some analysts point to the fact that the permits came before several visits by international delegations of evangelicals to Cairo.
Evangelical leaders met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, taking part in events celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in November.
CBN News reported that a delegation of American evangelicals met evangelical leaders in Egypt.
In a recent article, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, along with his staff, wrote, “…President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is doing his best to reassure his people that Egypt won’t back down from its promise to come to the aid of faith communities. The decision is an about-face in some areas, where churches had been closed to help ‘ease tensions’ with Muslims.”
“In other places, it’s an act of defiance in the face of ISIS’s growing threats,” the article continued.
World Watch Monitor said a local source told the news outlet that the president of Egypt wants to “show the U.S. that Egypt is standing with the Christians and that there is no persecution in Minya governorate.”
Coptic Christians have experienced their share of persecution in that area, with churches being shut down or burned down.
In addition, it is extremely difficult for Christians in Egypt to get a license to build a church, according to World Watch Monitor. However, last year, things began to change as Egypt’s parliament passed a law that involved the building and restoring of churches.
Then, in October, a cabinet committee began working on legalizing churches that did not have licenses, the news outlet reported.
“No one who met President el-Sisi in our delegation to Cairo last month would doubt his commitment to greater religious freedom in his land,” Perkins and his staff wrote.
And the Family Research Council is calling on the U.S. government to do everything it can to prop up religious freedom advances in Egypt and the Middle East.
“The first step would be for the Senate to confirm President Trump’s nominee for Ambassador at Large for Religious Liberty, Governor Sam Brownback,” the FRC staff wrote. “We have a window of opportunity with governments like President Sisi’s. Now is the time to move.”