Religious restrictions in Algeria

Undue Attention in Algeria

Excerpts:

… government orders … have closed more than half of the North African country’s 50 Protestant churches in the last six months.

Most of the closures stem from enforcement of Ordinance 06-03, a law restricting non-Muslims from worshiping. The law passed in February 2006, but Algerian officials did not enforce it until this year. In addition to closing churches, authorities have arrested Protestants in western Algeria as they have traveled between cities or exited religious meetings. Authorities have also barred Catholics from ministry outside their church walls.

In the last year, courts have sentenced Tiaret resident Rachid Muhammad Essaghir three times—once for blasphemy and twice for evangelism. The convert from Islam is appealing his cases. No Christian has yet served jail time on religious charges.

The restrictions to religious freedom have coincided with a barrage of antagonistic articles in Arabic newspapers, enflaming tensions between Christians and Muslims. “This is the most pressure Christians have faced in Algeria,” said Farid Bouchama, an Algerian Christian broadcaster living in France. “Before it was discrimination from families or jobs, but this is the first organized pressure from the state.”

Government officials assert that they are simply guarding against religious ex-tremism and that Christians are under the same restrictions that govern Muslim worship. But officials have also made public remarks equating Christian evangelism with terrorism and supporting the popular perception—fueled by the Arabic press—that Algeria’s Islamic identity is under threat.

Comments:

  • I hope, dear reader, that you caught this point – “officials have also made public remarks equating Christian evangelism with terrorism”.
  • We need to rejoice and celebrate the religious liberties we enjoy in the United States and we should remember our brothers and sisters in countries where they are persecuted for their faith!
  • More information on Algeria is available at CIA Factbook – Algeria
  • How to pray: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (I Timothy 2:1-2)
  • Our faithfulness is important: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25). Would religious persecution stop you or I from faithfulness to our local church? I trust not! We must make sure that recreation or laziness stops us either!
  • More: religious persecution in China: Police seize Zhang Mingxuan, wife and co-pastor after leader agrees to BBC interview.
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