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ALGERIA: Another Officially Mandated Church Closure

ALGERIA: Another Officially Mandated Church Closure

On 6 August, a church in Bouidjima was officially closed by the National Gendarmerie for failing to have a permit. A government mandate, requiring permits for all churches, was issued in 2006. Yet, even though applications have been properly submitted, the requested permits were not issued. One Algerian church leader refers to the officials’ implementation of such authorisation as only a pretext, further surmising that “their goal is to end the church in Algeria”.

The church’s pastor, Messaoud Takilt, received notification of the closure only three days prior, giving the members limited time to vacate the building. On the closing day, they gathered for worship. When police arrived, the pastor convinced the officers to leave until after the completion of the service, at which time the building was officially sealed.

 Sources: VOM Canada, Liberté, Votre News

  • Uphold the leaders and members of this congregation and those of other Algerian churches facing similar uncertainty.
  • Ask God to imbue these Christians with strength and wisdom so they can continue reaching out with His love and grace.
  • Pray the church will continue to grow in spite of the opposition.

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ALGERIA: Authorities Shut Down Church Again

ALGERIA: Authorities Shut Down Church Again

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, the congregation continued to meet for worship in a tent erected in the church yard. On 28 January, the National Gendarmerie informed the owner of the tent that it must be dismantled.

The Church of Azagher 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 licences 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 licence.

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.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Please pray the church and EPA leaders would know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of growing pressure.
  • Pray the church members will be given opportunities to meet to worship the Lord.
  • Pray those responsible for the opposition would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus.

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ALGERIA: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

ALGERIA: Christian Acquitted of Blasphemy Charges

An Algerian Christian farmer from a Muslim background was acquitted of blasphemy charges on 30 December.

This farmer became a Christian in 2013 and his wife’s family discovered his conversion. Because of their threats, the farmer moved his family to another province where he began work as a labourer. Their new location was discovered in 2017. His wife was persuaded to accuse him of insulting Islam and threatening her.

Police searched his house and then charged him with blasphemy. His wife was granted a divorce ─ as Muslim women cannot be married to non-Muslims ─ and she was granted custody of their two daughters. While he is now acquitted of blasphemy charges, he continues to face hardship as a result of lost employment. His in-laws also continue to deny access to his children.

Algeria’s constitution provides for the freedom of worship but declares Islam to be the state religion. Insulting or offending Islam is considered a criminal offence. In addition to imprisonment, convicted Christians can also face hefty fines if convicted of blasphemy.

Sources: Middle East Concern. International Christian Concern

  • Thank the Lord for spiritually sustaining this believer through opposition, hardship and loss. Pray for continued spiritual strength.
  • Ask God to soften the hearts of his in-laws; may they too come to know the love of Christ.
  • Ask God to provide for this believer with work and opportunities to see his children. Pray too he may be greatly supported by other believers in Algeria.

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ALGERIA: Another Church Closed by the Authorities

ALGERIA: Another Church Closed by the Authorities

Algerian police shut the doors of another church, it was sealed by authorities on 16 October.

The congregation is in Azaghar, a village near Akbou, about 180km south-east of Algiers. It has about 300 members and has been active for more than five years. It is a member of the EPA (Église Protestante d’Algérie), the legally recognised umbrella of protestant churches in Algeria.

Government officials ordered the church to close in February after inspecting the site and demanding the church be renovated to provide another emergency exit and fire extinguishers. The church complied with these demands and even closed for three weeks to allow for the renovation. Even after this, the police went to the building owner and notified him that they were going to close the building on orders from the Bejaia provincial officials.

This is not the first church to be closed in Algeria this year. Although some previously closed churches have been allowed to re-open, many still remain shut.

In the midst of rising church closures in Algeria, new churches and any other non-Muslim places of worship are required to register with the state. This has become a difficult process as the government has kept many churches from officially registering.

Sources: Middle East Concern, International Christian Concern

  • Pray the church leaders and EPA leaders would know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of the growing pressure.
  • Pray the authorities will end their systematic campaign to close churches and limit Christians’ freedom to worship.
  • Pray that 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.
ALGERIA: Four Christians Face Proselytism Charges

ALGERIA: Four Christians Face Proselytism Charges

Algerian Christians request prayer for four Christians, including three from the same family, who will appear in court on 6 November in the Province of Bouira, in the Kabylie region.

These Christians are accused of “inciting a Muslim to change his religion” (a criminal offence under the penal code) and “performing religious worship in an unauthorised place” (contravening the 2006 ordinance governing non-Muslim worship).

The charges follow accusations made in July 2018 by a woman, whose husband had converted to Christianity. She and members of her family filed a complaint against her Christian husband, and against a Christian family that had tried to mitigate a conflict between the wife and husband, accusing them of “wanting to pressure her to become a Christian”. The defendants were to appear before court in October, but the hearing has been postponed to November.

In a separate case, a Christian from Tizi Ouzou has been charged with “illegal importation of Christian materials”. The young man (29) was returning from a visit to a Middle Eastern country in the summer of 2016 and had with him some items, such as keyrings and scarfs, with Christian inscriptions. He had previously been tried and acquitted, but the prosecutor has now decided to appeal. A new court date has yet to be set.

Source: Middle East Concern

  • Pray for those facing charges, that they may know the presence of Jesus and the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
  • Pray they will be acquitted of all charges.
  • Pray that those responsible for the intimidation of Christians will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s forgiveness.