On 24 April church leaders received a letter from the district authorities requiring their church to cease all religious activities on the grounds that they are in breach of a 2006 decree which regulates non-Muslim worship. This is the second time a church in this province has been ordered to close in the last two months.
The letter cited a breach of section 5 of the decree, which states that use of a non-Muslim place of worship is subject to prior authorisation by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups (overseen by the Ministry of Religious Affairs). The letter also claimed that the lease for the church building, rented on behalf of the Protestant Church of Algeria, is not valid because the building is registered as residential premises.
Because the National Commission does not actually meet and so never gives permission for buildings to be used as churches, most churches affiliated to the EPA rent buildings and inform local authorities that the buildings will be used as places of worship.
One month before they received this closure order, the leaders of this particular church had informed local authorities that they intended to use the building they had rented as a place of worship. EPA leaders say that the closure order limits freedom of worship, which is guaranteed in the Algerian constitution.
The issue of permission for places of worship is one of several points in the 2006 decree which clearly restrict the religious freedom of non-Muslims and contradict not only the provisions of the country’s new constitution but also Algeria’s commitments to religious freedom under international law.
Source: Middle East Concern
- Pray that the church’s leaders will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they try to deal with this difficult situation.
- Pray that the closure order will be withdrawn and that the church will be able to worship in the building without further hindrance.
- Ask the Lord to embolden and equip the church so that, in spite of man’s efforts to curb the growth of Christianity, the Lord’s Kingdom will grow throughout Algeria.