Algeria (MNN) – An unlikely outcome has come to fruition in Algeria. After 20 years in power, the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned amid protests.

So what’s next?

Protests in Algeria, which are ongoing, began on February 22. Algeria’s government is a presidential republic, but Bouteflika represented a ruling elite. Miles Windsor with Middle East Concern says the demonstrators have rejected and referred to these elites as a “museum government”.

However, Bouteflika’s resignation is not enough. BBC NEWS reports that protesters want the Algerian government, appointed on March 31 by Bouteflika, ousted entirely. The people want to see broader change and more freedom. They seek an end to widespread government corruption.

Find our coverage of the protests here and here.

Algeria’s Changing Leadership

While demonstrations and shifting leadership in Algeria do not directly affect religious freedom or local Christians, Algeria’s religious minorities expect to experience indirect impact.

Representative photo: Algerian protests 2011 (Photo courtesy of Magharebia via Flickr)

“Since 2006 there have been significant restrictions that have been made on the Church through legislation which has sought to organize the worship of non-Muslims in the country. Those laws, unconstitutional and counter to international human rights legislation. But it’s part of a number of laws which aims to restrict the freedom of religion in the country,” Windsor says.

Algeria is ranked #22 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. The World Watch List ranks the top 50 countries where it is hardest to live as a Christian. The main religion in Algeria is Islam, which the government has used as a tool to oppress Christians and churches in the country.

“[It’s] not just affecting Christians, I should say, but other religious minorities in Algeria. And the regime’s used its power and these laws to put pressure on the Church and to persecute Christians,” Windsor says.

“The hope is that the suggested changes to the constitution in the establishment oath…in Algeria would include the abolition of these laws and guarantees for freedoms.”

Uncertain Future

Still, the future in Algeria is anything but clear. With the resignation of Bouteflika comes a political vacuum in the government. Algerians desire change, but Windsor cautions that not all change is good.

Please, pray for Algeria, the political situation there, and for peace in the country. Ask God to bring about change which encourages religious tolerance for all in the nation. Finally, pray for our brothers and sisters in Algeria, for their protection and their witness.

Header photo courtesy of Middle East Concern