From The Assyrian International News Agency, 31/8/09, by Mary Abdelmassih:
A controversial Fatwa (Islamic edict) prohibiting the construction of new churches in Egypt has provoked considerable discussion and spiraled into a crisis, involving the Fatwa Council, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh, Christian and Muslim religious personalities, and the media...
The Fatwa (Arabic) in question was issued by the Al-Azhar affiliated "Dar el-Eftta" -- Fatwa Council for Islamic interpretations of laws in Islam. It stated "the will of a Muslim towards building a Church is a sin against God, just as if he left his inheritance towards building a nightclub, a gambling casino, or building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs."
...To highlight the reason for this "sin" the Fatwa went on to state: "Salvation in the Christian religion is the belief in Jesus as Lord, where Muslims fundamentally disagree on it. Muslims believe that Issa [Jesus in Arabic] peace be upon him, is a slave of Allah and His Messenger, and that Allah is one. He begets not and He is not begotten and there is none like unto Him. So if it is seen that one sect has deviated from this absolute Monotheism, then according to that person's own religion he is forbidden to donate for the erection of buildings where Allah is not worshiped alone."
...Christians were angered and considered it a clear and explicit insult to all Christians. The renowned theologian Reverend Abdelmassih Bassit, Professor at the Coptic Orthodox Clerical Institute, called it "a shocking Fatwa."
...Most Muslim leaders ...supported the Fatwa "as being issued by people qualified in Islamic Shari'a law" or "a Muslim should not donate to the building of a church when Christians do not believe in the religion of Mohammed, or him being a prophet."
...Many Christians believe that this Fatwa has exposed the true stance of the religious authorities and the government towards churches, and the reason why it refrains from passing the long awaited bill on the "unified law for building places of worship," which would put an end to all problems related to building and restoring places of worship. It is also believed that since Islam views church building as a sin, passing this bill would therefore be in conflict with Shari'a Law -- which is the main source of legislation as stipulated in the Constitution -- and this would be something that the government would avoid at all costs.