Algerian Christians, along with Middle East Concern, have asked us to pray for a church in the Kabylie area of Algeria that is threatened with closure.
The church, affiliated to the Protestant Church of Algeria (L’Église Protestante d’Algérie / EPA), received a letter last week from the district authorities requiring them to cease all religious activities on the grounds that they are in breach of a 2006 decree which regulates non-Muslim worship.
The authorities have threatened to commence legal proceedings against the pastor if Christian worship continues in the building that is currently being used by the church. The letter provides no further detail about the alleged infringement, nor any time frame within which they can ensure compliance with the law.
This situation reflects a long-standing legal difficulty faced by churches in Algeria. The 2006 decree stipulates that permission must be obtained before using a building for non-Muslim worship, and that such worship can only be conducted in buildings which have been specifically designated for that purpose.
However, the reality is that authorities have failed to respond to almost all applications by churches for places of worship, including by churches affiliated to the EPA which is legally registered. As a result of this lack of response, it has become standard practice for churches to rent premises and then inform the local authorities that they have done so.
The church currently facing legal proceedings started meeting in newly rented premises on 25th December 2015. The church leaders advised the regional authorities about their activities and provided all relevant documentation, including a statement confirming the church’s affiliation to the EPA.
In 2011 the mayor of Bejaia, a province in Kabylie, ordered the closure of rented church premises in the local area on the same legal basis. However, as a result of pressure from the EPA and a wave of protest among activists and human rights NGOs, the mayor withdrew this order.
Christians in Algeria ask us to pray;
- That the church pastor and leaders of the EPA will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in dealing with this situation.
- That the closure order will be lifted and the community will be able to worship in the building without further hindrance.
- That no legal action will be taken against the pastor.
- That the regulations governing non-Muslim worship will be amended, so that Christians will be able to worship freely.
- That those responsible for the closure order will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus.
Ephesians 6 vs 12: “For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. “