Pressure on christian churches in Algeria

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The Algerian christian church has been under immense pressure from islamists for several years now.

by Kaci Racelma our correspondent from Algiers.

Even the government prohibits the practice of non muslim worship “outside buildings dedicated to this effect” while “demanding prior authorisation for the right to worship in such buildings”

To practice a non muslim faith, followers are expected to be part of an association which is subject to prior authorisation from the wilaya.

The Tizi Ouzou wilaya in greater Kabylie, recently suspended two churches with a 700 and 200 member congretion respectively, without “certificates of conformity” they will remain closed, according to sources.

It is in this light that a seminar, which gathers members as well as both local and french pastors, is being organised, today, March 18 at Tizi-Ouzou.

This law, seen as “restrictive”, does seem to have little effect on the christian members who plan to “adhere” to the rules.

The two churches from the cities of Tizi-Ouzou and Tafath intend to keep their doors closed until “certificates of conformity” are issued by the authorised outfit in conformity with the recent law of March 2006.

According to another excutive decree passed in June 2007, members of non-muslim worshipers are required to be part of an association. This new law empowers the wilaya magistrate to blacklist any non-muslim group who “constitute a danger to public saftety”.

Heads of churches in Larbaa Nath Irathen and Ouadhias also received messages warning them of the new measures.

Malik, a young christian from Kabylie expressed his disappointment saying the new measures are “coercive”. “why is it that muslims in Europe have absolute freedom in the practice of their religion with mosques dotted everywhere on the continent whereas christians in Algeria are made to undergo such unjust restrictions?”.

A full dossier on the legal operation of these churches is under reveiw. The authorisation should be ready before the application of the 2006 law.

Evangelisation in Kabylie has not been met with any incidents in the past few years. Two years ago, a seminar was organised at the Constantine Emir Abdelkader university of islamic sciences during which topics raised included the participants’ anxiety in the practice of their faith.

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