Algeria: Authorities shut down church again

M J

Christians in Algeria request prayer for a congregation in the Kayblie region, which faces ongoing pressure from the authorities. After officials sealed the church building in October 2018, the congregation continued to meet for worship in a tent erected in the church yard. On 28 January 2019, the National Gendarmerie informed the owner of the tent that it must be dismantled.

The Church of Azagher, a village near Akbou, about 180 km south-east of Algiers has about 300 members and is more than five years old. It is a member of l’Église Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), the legally recognised umbrella of Protestant churches in Algeria.

Since November 2017 most EPA-affiliated churches have been visited by so-called “building-safety committees.” These committees have not only inspected buildings’ suitability to host meetings, but have also been asking about licenses required under a 2006 ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship. However, the government has yet to issue any licence for a church building under this ordinance.

Several churches have since received written orders to cease all activities. A number were closed by authorities because they did not have a license.

The congregation in Azaghar was visited by a “committee” in December 2017. In February 2018 the church received a letter citing non-compliance with safety regulations (lack of emergency exits and fire extinguishers). The church fixed those issues. However, the letter also mentioned violations of regulations regarding foreign visitors and noted a violation of the building’s designated commercial usage (poultry production). It was sealed by the authorities on 16 October 2018.

Algerian Christians urge us to pray that:

a. church and EPA leaders would know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of the growing pressure
b. the authorities will end their systematic campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship
c. churches ordered to close would soon be permitted to re-open, and that no further action will be taken against those churches still under investigation
d. the regulations governing non-Muslim worship would be amended and justly implemented, so that Christians will be able to worship freely
e. those responsible for the closure orders would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus

You Can Share With Others Via: