The Egyptian government says it is moving to reopen churches closed under ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The decision follows an escalation of deadly clashes between extremist Salafi Muslims and minority Coptic Christians.
The government said it would study the cases of 48 churches shuttered during Mubarak's three-decade reign and decide on reopening them on a case by case basis.
The Cabinet will also draft a new law granting equality to Muslims and Christians in building churches and mosques, as well as decrees against protests at places of worship and incitement to hatred.
Amir Ramzy, a Christian activist, said the decisions "are a happy surprise" for many Christians.
"For so long, these decisions were kept in the drawers; these were the seeds of sectarian tensions," he said Wednesday.