Algerian Christians banned from worshipping even in a tent, after church building sealed


Date:  January 30, 2019

Christians in Algeria were forced out of a tent they were worshipping in by police on 28 January after their church building was sealed by authorities.

The tent, set up in the grounds of Azaghar Church, enabled the 300-strong congregation to continue worshipping following the forced closure of their church building for spurious “health and safety” reasons.

The church in the village of Azaghar, around 110 miles south-east of Algiers, lost the use of its building in October 2018, despite the congregation responding to requests to install fire exits and fire extinguishers.

While conversion from Islam is not a criminal offence in Algeria, those who witness to Muslims potentially face a five-year jail sentence

The officially recognised church had been open for five years and is a powerful ministry to local Muslims. Azaghar is reportedly the fourth Christian place of worship closed down in the past year.

Non-Muslim religious groups in Algeria are required to be registered to conduct services and are restricted to approved locations. In practice, authorities have typically allowed churches registered with official religious organisations and even non-registered Christian groups to meet without needing specific permission. However, a number of churches have been shut down since the start of 2018, either for alleged breaches of health and safety, or because authorities claim they are not properly registered.

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