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Catholics complain of unfair pressure in Algeria

ICC Note

“For the last two years, we have serious difficulties made for us by the Algerian administration every two or three months,”

Thursday, February 21, 2008 Algeria (Christian Today)-Algeria’s tiny Catholic community is in trouble with the authorities because of a mistaken belief that it wants to convert Muslims, the country’s Roman Catholic archbishop said on Wednesday.

Archbishop of Algiers Henri Teissier said increased activity by evangelical Christians in the overwhelmingly Muslim country had led to periodic “serious difficulties” for Catholics even though the Church had clearly explained it was not involved.

“For the last two years, we have serious difficulties made for us by the Algerian administration every two or three months,” he said in brief remarks to Reuters. “I think it’s due to the fight against the proselytising by evangelical groups.”

“We are not responsible for this evangelism. But the administration continues to take measures against us,” he said.

“(Evangelicals) … have arrived in Africa . And the first to have suffered from the actions of these groups are Catholics.”

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Destitution

A Church statement dated Jan 31 and made available by Archbishop Teissier said the visits were intended “to provide a brotherly presence to people living in extreme destitution”.

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The law, which also forbids non-Muslims from seeking to convert Muslims, was prompted by what officials have described as an increase in the activities of Christian evangelical sects.

Complaints by government officials about the alleged conversion efforts have reached a crescendo in recent weeks.

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