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ICC Note: Vandals attacked and destroyed the interior of a church in the Algerian city of Tizi-Ouzou on Thursday, January 7 causing damages in excess of $8,000. Although the identity of the assailants has not been verified, jihadist-linked slogans were painted on the wall such as “Allah Akhbar.” Christians in the Muslim-majority country have faced vandalism-related hostilities as well as social and economic hostilities related to delayed work visas and freedom of religion.

01/12/2016 Algeria (Morning Star News) Unknown “thugs” who wrote a jihadist slogan on a church building in the center of this city on the Algerian coast on Thursday night (Jan. 7) looted and damaged the property, sources said.

The assailants vandalized or stole furniture, worship items and money worth about US$8,000 from the Light (Tafat) Church late Thursday night or early Friday morning, pastor Mustapha Krireche told Morning Star News.

“Thieves broke into the inside of our church through the window, because we installed a reinforced door very hard to force open,” he said. “They took the music equipment like guitars, synthesizer, percussion and sound equipment, plus a printer, the trunk of tithes, a sum of money and other material.”

The assailants left graffiti on the church walls proclaiming the jihadist chant, “Allah Akbar [God is greater],” but Pastor Krireche did not speculate on their identity or motives, calling them only “a group of thugs.”

Church leaders filed a complaint with the city’s police commissioner, and Tizi-Ouzou investigators arrived at the site on Friday morning (Jan. 8). The city is 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the Algiers, the capital.

. . .

“Christian groups reported irregular delays in receiving responses to their requests for work visas for their personnel, although responsiveness overall improved during the year,” the report states. “Proselytizing to Muslims remained a criminal offense.”

Proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims, the report states, is punishable by up to 1 million dinars (US$11,400) and five years’ imprisonment for anyone who “incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion; or by using to this end establishments of teaching, education, health, social, culture, training…or any financial means.”

Making, storing, or distributing printed documents or audiovisual materials with the intent of “shaking the faith” of a Muslim carries the same punishment, according to the report.

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