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Algerian Christians Protest as Leaders Await Court Ruling  
  
Does Algeria Respect Religious Freedom? We shall soon find out
 
Washington, D.C. (October 3, 2010) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that at least fifty Algerian Christians protested criminal charges filed by Salafist jihadists against four church leaders. The protesters called the charges “absurd” and viewed them as an effort to rid a village of Christianity. The Christian leaders are awaiting the court’s verdict.
 
Pastor Mahmoud and three elders of a newly established evangelical church in Larbaa Nath Irathen, a village in the Kabylie region of Algeria, were prevented from continuing worship services when Salafist jihadists accused the church of conducting ‘illegal’ Christian activity. In response, Algerian security forces demanded that the church halt all worship services and that the four leaders appear in court on charges of conducting Christian activity without government authorization and hosting foreigners without reporting their presence to the Larbaa Nath Irathen police station.
 
The trial was held on September 26th. Algerian Christians gathered outside the courtroom in protest after being denied entrance into the proceeding. “This is the first time I’ve seen this in Algeria,” an Algerian Christian activist told ICC. “Many believers came to encourage the four brothers. The authorities refused to let Christians in the court, so we sang loudly to let them know that we were outside.”
 
The verdict of the four Christian leaders is scheduled to be announced on October 10th; however, there is a possibility that it will be postponed. “The outcome of the verdict is uncertain,” the Algerian Christian continued. “The authorities want to agree with the Salafists, but the pressure of the church and her partners are making a counterbalance. I think the government will decide not to jail them, but the government will still stop them from using the church building because their first goal is to stop all church activities.”
 
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “The Algerian government does not want media attention on the trial of these four Christians, but would prefer to appease the Islamic fundamentalist groups and hide this incident under the rug. Yet, if the fundamentalists get their way, the church will continue to quietly suffer and persecution in Algeria will go on as usual. All freedom-loving people must demand the end of tyranny in Algeria. The policies of the Algerian government have been persuaded by Islamic fundamentalists for too long. While Algeria continues to trample upon the most basic human right to religious freedom, the church faithfully presses onward while its leaders plead for equality. Such tyranny must end. Religious freedom in Algeria is not some distant dream, but an attainable reality. This trial allows the Algerian government an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it too desires freedom of religion and is steadily making progress toward that end.”

For interviews, contact Aidan Clay, Regional Manager for the Middle East: [email protected]