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Egypt changes restrictions on repairing churches


(RNS) ó Christian churches in Egypt, an overwhelmingly Muslim country, will be able to carry out long-delayed repairs thanks to a decree by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The decree was made in response to appeals from Egyptís community of 7 million to 10 million Christians, who say they are systematically discriminated against due to their status as a religious minority. International human rights group have also pressured the Egyptian government to deal with all religions in an equal manner.

Mubarak decided to reform the Hamayouni Decree, an Ottoman law dating back to 1856, which required the presidentís personal approval for the simplest of repairs. The Egyptian media announced the reform, known as Decree No. 291, on Dec. 8.

In accordance with the decree, the government now has 30 days during which to approve church requests for renovations.