Three Churches Reopened in Algeria

ICC Note: Algerian Christians have reported increasing governmental pressure in recent months. However, the authorities have unexpectedly reopened three recently closed churches. Although reopened, a number of others remain closed and they have not received official registration. This registration status is impossible to achieve as the committee tasked with this has never met.      

06/12/2018 Algeria (MEC) –   As Algerian Christians continue to request prayer in the face of pressure by the government, they are grateful that three recently-closed churches in Oran Province have been permitted to re-open.

Churches in Ain Turk (30 km west of Oran), Oran and El Ayaida (35 km east of Oran) were closed in November 2017 and February 2018. On Sunday 10 June, the Governor of Oran Province signed an order authorising the unconditional re-opening of these three places of worship. Church leaders were notified of the order which was also issued to the police in the relevant areas. Security officials proceeded to remove the seals that had been placed on the doors of the church premises.

The three churches permitted to re-open are affiliated to the Protestant Church of Algeria (l’Église Protestante d’Algérie). The Governor’s order allowing the re-opening of these churches does not confer official registration under the 2006 ordinance governing non-Muslim worship which stipulates that churches must obtain permission from a national committee. In practice, that committee never meets – so no church application has officially been considered or approved.

Since November 2017, officials have been conducting church inspections, ostensibly to test compliance with safety regulations but in practice to also scrutinise licencing arrangements. At least ten churches have been closed or ordered to cease all activities. The most recent closures were on 26 May 2018 when churches in Ait-Mellikeche and Maatkas were ordered to close.

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