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Algerian Police Orders Closure of All Churches

May 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Algeria, Persecution, World

Algerian ChristiansAlgerian Christians have appealed for urgent prayer after the police ordered the closure of churches across the country “once and for all”.

The head of the Algerian Protestant Church Association (EPA) – to which the majority of Algerian churches belong – received a notice, dated 22 May, from a High Police Commissioner informing him that a decision had been made to close down all Christian places of worship throughout the country that are not designated for religious purposes.

Most church buildings have not been officially designated because it has proved impossible for them to obtain registration from the authorities following stringent regulations introduced in 2006, which were designed to restrict the religious activity of non-Muslims.

The closure order applies to existing church buildings and those under construction. The High Commissioner threatened “severe consequences and punishments” for violation of the order.

Church clampdown

Algeria is overwhelmingly Muslim; there are around 60,000 Christians in the country, almost all of them converts from Islam. Christians enjoyed six years of relative religious freedom following the end of the civil war in 2000, but the authorities have been clamping down on their activities since the new regulations were introduced.

These required churches to register with a National Commission set up specifically for this purpose, but numerous applications have been met with no response. Churches have been subjected to sporadic closures and police clampdowns on their unregistered activities.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:

This closure order is the latest and most worrying development in what appears to be a systematic campaign by the authorities to eradicate Christianity in Algeria. Many churches will be driven underground with believers denied the right to practise their faith freely. But praise God that, despite the authorities’ best efforts, the Church in Algeria is growing.

Barnabas Fund supports a number of projects in Algeria including pastors’ training and support, a church-based nursery for Christian children and a theological institute. We have also supported a leadership and discipleship training school and small business initiatives for Christians.

Algerian Christians have made the following prayer requests:

  • “May the Lord give wisdom to the church leaders how to deal with this new wave of persecution. The vast majority of the churches are affected by this order.
  • For the Lord to take away the spirit of fear and give His Spirit of power, love and self control, to stand firm against the threats of the authorities. (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • For the abolition of the March 2006 ordinances.
  • That the Church will be allowed to meet and worship in full freedom.
  • May our Lord Jesus manifest powerfully His salvation and glorious victory against the evil one in this situation. Amen!”

– Barnabas Team

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