CWN - The Coptic Orthodox bishop of Minya, Egypt, criticized government officials for failing to allow for the reopening of 15 local churches that had been closed by security order.

“Every time we move to resolve the problems that cause these grievances we are met with the same lame excuse: the security situation does not allow it,” said Bishop Macarius, according to a Cairo newspaper.

“Security officials explained that the sentiments of Muslim villagers should be respected, implying that Coptic sentiments yearning for a place to pray are not worthy of the same respect,” he continued. “It looks as though the great, sovereign State of Egypt is governed not by law but by those who object to Coptic prayers.”

The prelate added: Egypt’s Constitution guarantees the right to worship, but on the ground Copts are denied this right according to the personal whim of local officials. Worse, it has become customary for local security apparatuses to monitor the activity of Coptic communities so as to ensure that no Christian prayers are held, even if this implies official use of force against congregations or clerics.