Egyptian Religious Ministry Bans Interactions With Evangelical Church

Sabri Ebada, undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf in Gharbiya, said the ministry issued a written order to stop dealing with the Evangelical Church in Egypt for reasons that were not immediately revealed.

The Ministry of Awqaf's decision was signed by Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Razik Abdel Hadi, the undersecretary for mosques, and Dr. Abdu Ali Meklad, senior undersecretary of the ministry. The decision prevents all departments across the country from having dealings with the Evangelical Church of Egypt.

According to Sada el-Balad's website, Ebada said the written decision was issued by Dr. Meklad, deputy of the Minister of Awqaf and head of religious affairs.

"This takes place in the context of what is called 'Brotherhooding' and 'Salafizing' of the ministry," added Ebada, who pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood challenges their opponents with decisions issued by the head of the religious affairs department of the Ministry of Awqaf.

"Remarks by the spokesperson of the ministry are made to media outlets without official review and are intended to mislead public opinion," Ebada said in a statement.

Ebada noted that Awqaf's department in Gharbiya will organize a protest in solidarity with the Evangelical Church and demand disclosure of the reasons for the decision, which he described as "strange."

For his part, Dr. Ikram Lamie, the spokesperson for the Evangelical Church in Egypt, said he would immediately contact the community leader, Dr. Safwat el-Bayadi, and his deputy, Dr. Andrea Zaki, to discuss the ministry's reasons for issuing such a resolution to its departments in Gharbiya.

"The situation is a warning sign of a possible repeat of what happened under former President Gamal Abdel Nasser when he seized lands belonging to the Evangelical Church. Part of these lands were recovered under President Anwar Sadat, and the remainder were recovered under former President Hosni Mubarak," Dr. Lamie added.

Dr. Lamie said that anything is a possibility after this decision, and he did not rule out the possibility that the decision is a precursor to seize lands that are held by the Evangelical Church.

"No discord has recently occurred between the church and the Ministry of Awqaf which would justify such a decision," noted Dr. Lamie, who said that the decision was made while the community leader was in the U.S.