Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox refutes reports it plans to build first church in Saudi Arabia

Rumours started after Pope Tawadros II met with the Saudi Ambassador to Cairo
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox refutes reports it plans to build first church in Saudi Arabia
The rumours and reports surfaced after His Holiness Pope Tawadros II met with the Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Kattan, in Cairo at the weekend
By Shane McGinley
Tue 25 Feb 2014 12:13 PM

The
Coptic Orthodox Church has issued a statement denying reports it has struck an
agreement with Saudi Arabian officials to build the first church in the kingdom.

The
rumours and reports surfaced after His Holiness Pope Tawadros II met with the
Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmed Kattan, in Cairo at the weekend, with the
MidEast Christian News agency claiming the possibility of setting up a church
had been addressed at the meeting.

However,
Fr Paul Halim, the official spokesman for the Coptic Orthodox Church, told the
US Copts Association the reports were “untrue”.

The
Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK also issued a statement clarifying the purpose of Friday's meeting:
"This was however a strictly cordial visit by His Holiness Pope Tawadros
to the Saudi ambassador to express his thanks for the assistance provided in
facilitating the pastoral visit of a Coptic Orthodox bishop to Coptic
Christians in Saudi Arabia."

Despite
over 1 million Christians living in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom is still one of
the few countries in the world which does not have a Christian church.

Last
year, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia caused controversy when he said it is
“necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” echoing moves in Kuwait
to ban their construction.

Saudi
Arabia’s top cleric made the comment in view of an age-old rule that only Islam
can be practiced in the region.

The
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia is the highest official of religious law in the
Sunni Muslim kingdom. He is also the head of the Supreme Council of Ulema
(Islamic scholars) and of the Standing Committee for Scientific Research and
Issuing of Fatwas.

A
Kuwaiti parliamentarian in February 2013 said he wanted to ban the construction
of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state.

MP
Osama Al Munawer announced on Twitter he planned to submit a draft law calling
for the removal of all churches in the country. He later clarified that
existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places
of worship should be banned.

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