08/18/2020 Algeria (International Christian Concern) – Algeria’s administrative court has rejected a request from the Spring of Life Church in Makouda to cancel the governor’s closure order. This church belongs to the legally recognized Église Protestante d’Algérie (EPA) and was closed last October.
According to the administrative court, the governor was authorized to close the church under Ordinance 06-03. This law says that churches must obtain permission to operate as a place of worship by submitting an application before a commission which has simply never met. However, by affiliating with the EPA, churches were able to still gain a legal identity. Since the fall of 2017, the authorities have visited every EPA church and closed several. Some churches, in an attempt to reopen, have unsuccessfully tried to apply for permission to regional authorities.
It is expected that the administrative court’s decision is something which would be replicated for other churches. The decision also comes at a time when every church in Algeria remains closed because of COVID-19 concerns. It is uncertain how the authorities will address reopening churches. Will the authorities keep closed those churches who were sealed shut before COVID-19? Will the authorities reopen every church as the pandemic lockdown ends? Or perhaps something unexpected will happen, and the authorities will unveil a new policy towards churches that hurts religious freedom in new ways. Such questions frequent the thoughts of several Algerian Christians.
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