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ALGERIA: Government Crackdown on Churches Continues

Algerian government authorities closed and sealed eight church buildings in 2019, including three in October alone.

On 16 October, just days after Christians had protested the government’s crackdown on churches, authorities expelled worshipers from The Light Church in north-central Algeria and sealed the doors of the building. Earlier in the week, the Protestant Church of the Full Gospel and the Source of Life Church, in the area of Tizi Ouzou, were also closed. The three churches closed in October were among the largest congregations in Algeria.

On 24 September, authorities in Boghni announced that they had sealed a church building at the governor’s order. The church building had served two congregations belonging to the Protestant Churches of Algeria (EPA), a legally recognized entity that serves about 380 member churches.

Since 2017, authorities in the Sunni-majority nation have closed churches under a 2006 law that requires all non-Islamic places of worship to attain authorization from a government agency. The government has been challenging existing churches to prove their authorization, while at the same time denying permits for new church buildings.

Despite the government’s campaign to close church buildings, the body of Christ in Algeria continues to grow rapidly, especially within the Berber community. Berber Christians, whom the government closely monitors, have gained a collective voice by joining the EPA.

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