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Churches Threatened in Algeria

June 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Algeria, Persecution, World

Christians Praying in a Church in AlgeriaA provincial governor ordered seven churches in the province of Béjaïa to close recently, but Christian leaders do not intend to comply. On May 22, 2011, the Béjaïa police commissioner sent an official letter to the head of the Algerian Protestant Church Association (EPA), stating that all churches in his province and around the country should be closed immediately. The notice cited a May 8 decision from the governor of Béjaïa province.

The police commissioner wrote, “Close down all the worship places around the country once for all, the places which are used now and the places which are under construction.” According to the notice, if the churches do not comply, they may face “severe consequences and punishments.”

After delivering the notice, police summoned the leaders of seven churches in Béjaïa to sign a document accepting the order. But the leaders did not comply, citing the regional governor’s limited authority. They will continue to hold regular church services as scheduled.

“They said we have to be in conformity to the law,” Mustapha Krim, a president of the EPA, told Compass Direct News. “We’ve always tried to do this and have submitted all that they requested. Now it’s up to them to give us the authorization and do what they need to do.”

Church registration is required under Ordinance 06-03, a law enacted in 2006. The churches have tried to register, but officials have refused to grant or even respond to applications for registration, EPA leaders told Compass Direct. “This first notification may be the beginning of permanently closing every place of worship other than Islam throughout the national territory,” a church leader in Tizi Ouzou told International Christian Concern. “We must begin to make noise and to not allow this to pass over in silence, or else the authorities will crush us.”

– Compass Direct News, International Christian Concern, VOM Sources

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