ICC Note: During a period of constitutional reforms in Algeria, the government passed a “Freedom to Practice One’s Religion” amendment. This is an incredible step forward to securing the safety of Algeria’s growing Christian population in a predominantly Muslim country. Churches have been growing throughout the country, mainly due to the influx of the Berber people. The governing officials in charge of implementing the reforms urged the Algerian Christians to be cautious about future leadership since Algerian law still places Presidential Decrees about Constitutional Amendments.
2/19/2016 Algeria (Wazala) – Freedom to practise one’s religion has been granted in a package of constitutional reforms in Algeria. The change could bring significant benefits to Christians in a country where Evangelical churches are seeing an explosion in numbers among Kabyle-speaking Berber people. Hundreds can be seen each week engaged in worship and listening to challenging biblical preaching on SAT-7’s My Church in Algeria programme.
Amendments to the constitution were promised by Algeria’s ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika after Arab Spring uprisings led to the overthrow of presidents in Tunisia and Libya, Algeria’s neighbours.
Ali Khidri, the Executive Secretary of the Bible Society in Algeria, said that the new article relating to freedom of religion is the one that is most significant for Algeria’s growing, first generation Church.
“All this is going in the right direction,” he said and is “the result of [campaigning by] the Church and Christians for many years now.”
However, Mr Khidri advised caution and said he did not expect to see changes take effect in the short term. Why? Because a 2006 law that made it illegal to “shake the faith of a Muslim” drastically limited the freedom to witness. This was a presidential decree and cannot be cancelled until there is a change of president. “A presidential decree is more powerful than the constitution!” Mr Khidri explained.
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