Algeria’s Constitution: Better or Worse for Christians?
09/24/2020 Algeria (International Christian Concern) – Algerian Christians have expressed concern regarding the released draft of a revised constitution, which is expected to be voted upon through a popular referendum this November.
According to the new Constitution’s draft, Article 51 states: “The freedom of opinion is inviolable. The freedom to exercise worship is guaranteed if it is exercised in accordance with the law. The state ensures the protection of places of worship from any political or ideological influence.”
For comparison, the current constitution states in Article 42: “Freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion shall be inviolable. Freedom of worship shall be guaranteed in compliance with the law.”
Some Algerian church leaders have expressed concern that the current draft is vaguer because it drops the phrase “freedom of conscience.” They also point out that Algeria has created a legal system regulating churches which is impossible to follow. For example, since 2006 new churches are supposed to gain legal recognition through a committee that has simply never met. They have thus sought out legal alternatives to gaining recognition. Despite this, Algeria has closed multiple churches.
The added language in the constitution regarding protection of places of worship may be in response to international pressure. However, such protection means little if Algeria does not adopt an active approach towards religious freedom. Sadly, this approach has been lacking for well over a decade. For more information, see ICC’s brief on Religious Freedom in Algeria.
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