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ICC Note:

Police have closed a church in Algeria, which included sealing the portion of the church featuring a bookshop. The shop was raided by police last month, and the owner was accused of illegally printing Bibles and evangelistic brochures. No proof of the allegations were found during the raid. Algerian Christians are routinely watched by authorities and often harassed with legal difficulties. The law does not prohibit conversion from Islam, but anyone who attempts to convert a Muslim to another religion does so at the risk of paying a hefty fine and five years imprisonment. This is in spite of a constitution that provides for the freedom of conscience and worship. If Algeria is truly sincere about pursuing religious freedom, it must do more to protect the rights of Christians.

 

11/22/2017 Algeria (MEC) –   Christians in Algeria ask for prayer for a church in Ain Turk, which has been closed by police. On November 9, 2017, authorities sealed the hall, which was used for worship and a bookshop owned by a member of the church.

Last month police raided the bookshop, accusing its owner of illegally printing Bibles and evangelistic brochures. They confiscated books and equipment but returned them when no proof of the allegations was found. Despite that, police issued and implemented a closure order for both the church and the bookshop. The order, which wrongly identifies the bookshop owner as the pastor of the church, repeated the earlier accusations and also alleges that he uses his private car to distribute illegal Christian material. The closure order also claims the Ain Turk church is illegal, despite its affiliation with the officially recognized EPA (L’Église Protestante d’Algérie).

Churches in Algeria face long-standing legal difficulties. Permission is required before a building can be used for non-Muslim worship, however authorities have always failed to grant such permission to churches. It has therefore become standard practice for churches to rent premises and then inform the local authorities about their activities, providing all relevant documentation, including confirming affiliation with the EPA.

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