Algeria Protests Continue Over Lack of Rights

04/13/2021 Algeria (International Christian Concern) –  Algeria’s protest movement, known as Hirak, has been reignited after a year of pandemic restrictions and oppressive legislation. The 2019 protests circulated around then-President Abdelaziz Boutefikla’s announcement of a fifth term, though when he conceded defeat and little change occurred, protests continued to fight large-scale corruption.

His successor, President Abdelmajid Tebboune, was elected in December 2020, though the elections were largely boycotted due to low confidence. Originally supportive of Hirak, Tebboune has since changed his tone towards the protest movement. In 2020, legislation changes allowed for heavier sentencing during national times of hardship or disaster, expanding the government’s control during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 changes also brought more restrictions on digital media, resulting in censorship and arrest of notable Hirak protestors. Ammendents brought forward are under the pretext of pandemic safety measures, though suggests an increasing government involvement and restriction on the people’s rights. One example of this is that Chrisitian churches remain closed, despite the fact that mosques have been allowed to reopen.

Underlying many of these government restrictions is the freedom of conscience, the right to one’s own beliefs in religion and morality. One protestor commented saying, “nothing has changed, we have a president who belongs to the old regime… nothing has changed so people will keep protesting until we get a state of rights and a civil state, not a state governed by the army.”

As news sites must receive approval for information shared and bloggers face increased restrictions on the scope of sharing their thoughts, the freedom of conscience is threatened and severely lacking for Christians in Algeria. Several Christians, and even non-Christians, face blasphemy charges in Algeria and increased restriction on their expression of faith.

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