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Pope Tawadros Calls for Moving or Expanding ‘Crowded’ Egyptian Churches after Abu Sifin Fire

Pope Tawadros Calls for Moving or Expanding ‘Crowded’ Egyptian Churches after Abu Sifin Fire

Wednesday, 17 August, 2022 - 09:30
Egyptians mourn the victims of the Abu SIfin church fire, which killed 41 people (AFP)

Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria joined government calls to move churches in overcrowded areas to “wider places,” days after a major fire engulfed a church in the Giza governorate, killing dozens.

“There are small prayer places compared to the number of Copts in the area, and the church that witnessed the fire did not exceed an area of 120 meters,” Pope Tawadros told a local Egyptian channel over the phone.

“I ask responsible agencies to pay attention to the matter, either by expanding or moving to a wider place,” he added.

On Sunday, Social Solidarity Minister Nevin el Qabbaj controversially called for replacing churches in densely populated places in the North African nation.

She told Al Arabiya television that the state is in the process of reviewing the conditions of old churches, and the matter is not related to legalization only, but also extends to closing churches and replacing them with new ones.

Egypt is still grieving the church tragedy. On Sunday morning a fire broke out at a packed church, killing 41 people, the majority of whom were children, and leaving many others injured.

The blaze started just before 9 a.m. in the Abu Sifin church where about up to 1,000 people had gathered.

“A field assessment of the conditions of churches is being carried out with great sensitivity,” Qabbaj told Al Arabiya.

For his part, Tawadros praised “the efforts of state agencies and the solidarity and condolences of the officials.”

He spoke about the church's efforts to support the victims of the fire.

He confirmed the formation of a committee of clergy to visit the injured, including a Muslim man who participated in the rescue efforts.

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