Not the religion of liberty
Algerian officials have closed 26 Algerian churches by either written order or verbal warning since November 2007. Ranging in size from several dozen to more than 1,000 members, 32 congregations in Algeria belong to the Protestant Church of Algeria, while another 20 small fellowships exist independently. Algeria, a country of 33 million in northern Africa, is home to at least 10,000 Protestants.
Religious Affairs Minister Abdallah Ghoulamullah has called on Christian groups in Algeria to re-register according to Algerian associations law. But Algerian Christians have claimed that the government has blocked them from carrying out the required re-registration of their churches. â€œThe administration offices in Tizi-Ouzou did not want to or could not say which measures to take in order to obtain the â€˜certificate of conformity,â€™â€ church leaders say.
Nevertheless, authorities require the certificate to show that a church is in line with the March 2006 law governing non-Muslim places of worship. But because these regulations are unclear, churches are closed and services are forbidden. Expressing the Christian faith in a church service, by worship and prayer, has become almost impossible. Earlier this year an Algerian Christian was detained five days for carrying a personal Bible and study books. He was fined $460 and handed a one-year suspended prison sentence. On April 29 a court charged the Muslim Background Believer with â€œprinting, storing and distributingâ€ illegal religious material.
Algeria's official state religion is Islam, and religious minorities are seen as a threat to the government's internal affairs. Anyone found trying to convert a Muslim to Christianity can receive a sentence of two to five years imprisonment and given a fine up to $15,430. Christianity has been compared to terrorism, and Muslim schools and mosques have been encouraged to continue the attack that threatens to wipe out the Christian community in Algeria.
Open Doors has launched a worldwide advocacy campaign asking supporters to contact their local Algerian Embassy. Supporters can send a message to Algerian Ambassador to the United States Amine Kherbi directly from the Open Doors Website, asking that the Algerian government stop church closures and reopen those that have already been closed. This is an important way for Christians in the United States to stand up for the religious rights of Christians in Algeria. To send a message, go to http://members.opendoorsusa.org/algeria2008.
Please Email Ambassador Kherbi today, asking him to stop the closure of churches and to reopen those that have already been closed. We need to tell the Algerian government that these church closures must stop, and that freedom for all religions must be respected, says Open Doors USA Advocacy Program Manager Lindsay Vessey. Also, keep Algerian believers in your prayers."
One is always amazed how strongly Muslim countries feel threatened by tiny Christian minorities. Is it because error is always threatened by truth? The religion of the false prophet cannot bear to be contradicted.