01/18/2020 Algeria (International Christian Concern) – An evangelical church in Oran (Algeria) which has been entangled within the court system since 2018 received a court order last week to close. The court order was issued in November 2019 but was delayed in being delivered to the church.
Two years ago, the authorities issued an order to the church that its activities should be “regularized.” This essentially meant that it was given restrictions on its operations, including even who could attend the church. A month after this order, in February 2018, the Governor sealed the church. However, it was reopened that June.
Just over a year later, the Governor opened a court case against the church stating that it did not have a license and requesting that it should be closed. The decision on January 12th upheld this perspective, the second time that the courts have ruled that churches are illegal if they fail to obtain permission from the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship. The church will appeal.
The challenge with this commission is that it has never actually met to consider church applications. It was established in accordance with the 2006 Ordinance 03-06, which required that churches get permission from the commission. Since it is defunct, most Algerian churches have chosen to register through the Église Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), since it is legally recognized. However, the government has since 2017 been closing churches affiliated with the EPA.
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