Swiss Parliamentarian Raises Concern Regarding Church Closures in Algeria
03/30/2021 Switzerland (International Christian Concern) – This month, Swiss National Councilor Eric Nussbaumer called on the Swiss Federal Council to address the closure of Protestant churches in Algeria, which many see as an infringement upon the religious freedom of Algerians. Nussbaumer presented the continued closure of 17 Protestant churches, sealed since November 2017, as evidence of a possible systematic violation of Algerian Christians’ freedom of worship by the government.
Nussbaumer’s appeal to the Federal Council comes amidst a pattern of international responses to religious freedom concerns in Algeria. Last month, the UN Human Rights Council announced a letter sent last year to the Algerian government, requesting more information behind the government’s closure of churches around the country.
Last year, International Christian Concern (ICC) sent a similar letter cosigned by 21 like-minded organizations to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, calling on him to address the continued church closures. Tebboune, who took power in December of 2019 with plans of reform, has remained silent about the closures, despite the reopening of the hundreds of mosques around the country.
In its 2020 Annual Report, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom included Algeria on its Special Watch List of countries where religious freedom is being increasingly threatened. In addition to the issue of continued closing of Protestant churches around the country, the Algerian government has been notorious for its implementation of blasphemy laws against Christians.
Although the Algerian government has not yet addressed the religious freedom issues, condemnation from the international community, such as that from Swiss Councilor Nussbaumer, can help to increase pressure on the Algerian government to preserve religious freedom in the country. ICC will continue to track the status of Algerian churches and raise these issues to policymakers in the United States.
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