Churches in Algeria asked to shutdown due to harassment of believers

Open Doors fears that a “systematic
campaign” against Christians is underway
in Algeria following the closure of a church
and harassment towards believers.
It has described how members of the
congregation at the Church of the Prince of
Peace in Ighzer Amokrane put up a
struggle when the authorities came to seal
the building.
They occupied the church and refused to
leave but the authorities came back again
and this time were successful, with the
church now having been closed since 2
September.
The l’Église Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), the
legally recognised umbrella group of
Protestant churches in Algeria, has
condemned the move, calling it illegal. It
added that the closure occurred despite not
being ordered by any court.
It is not the first church to be closed in
Algeria. In May, the authorities sealed off
a church in the village of Boudjema, in the
Kabilye area, while last year churches in
Ait-Mellikeche, Al A’keed Amroush and
Azaghar were also closed.
In another incident, the leaders of another
EPA-affiliated church in Maatkas were
summoned by the authorities and
interrogated.
Since 2006, non-Muslim places of worship
in Algeria have been required to have a
licence but many EPA-affiliated churches
report that it is only in the last two years
that the authorities have started asking for
proof that they have this.
At the same time, the authorities have
ignored applications for new church
licenses, while many existing churches
have been issued with notices to cease
activities.
Algeria is home to only 125,000 Christians –
around 0.3% of the population. Converts
face hostility from their families, while
churches report interference and opposition
from the authorities.
The country ranks 22nd on the Open Doors
World Watch List of the 50 countries where
Christians are the most persecuted.
A spokesperson for Open Doors said:
“These actions clearly represent a deeply
concerning continuation in the systematic
campaign against Christians in Algeria.
“The National Commission for Non-Muslim
Religious Groups, which was established
by a 2006 Ordinance to issue official
permits to churches, until now has not
issued a single permit.
“These latest developments serve to
undermine any sense that the Algerian
authorities are taking genuine steps to
improve Freedom of Religion of Belief in
Algeria.”

Author: Fsharp

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