Christians in Algeria request prayer for two court cases:
On 16 May there will be a hearing in the case against the owner of land being used by a church in the Kabylie province of Bejaia. He has been charged with allowing unauthorized worship on his land, violating a 2006 Ordinance that regulates non-Muslim worship.
The church involved is the “Ville de Refuge” congregation in the village of Azaghar, about 180 km south-east of Algiers. Active for more than five years, it has about 400 attendees and is a member of the EPA (Église Protestante d’Algérie), the legally recognised umbrella of Protestant churches in Algeria.
Since the church was sealed by the police on 16 October 2018 it has been meeting in a tent erected on the property. The owner of the tent was summoned several times by the authorities, and asked to dismantle it, but the church has continued to meet.
Since November 2017 most EPA-affiliated churches have been visited by so-called “building-safety committees,” which also ask for permits required for non-Muslim worship by the 2006 Ordinance. However, the government has yet to issue any license for a church building under this regulation.
The congregation in Azaghar was visited by a “committee” in December 2017 which found safety code violations and was ordered to close. The church has since rectified all the violations mentioned.
Several churches have since received written orders to cease all activities. A number were closed by authorities because they did not have a license, most recently in July 2018. Three of those closed churches have since been allowed to re-open.
In a separate incident, the leader of the Church in Makouda, in the province of Tizi Ouzou, was verbally informed he will be charged for violations of the building plans. This church is the second-largest Protestant congregation in Algeria. The pastor has submitted documentation showing the building is suitable for public meetings.
In November 2018, in a similar case a court ordered the church of Aït Djemaa, 35 km south of Tizi Ouzou to close. The court judgement stated that an affiliation with the EPA cannot replace a permission by a building safety committee.
Algerian Christians urge us to pray that:
- church leaders would know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of continued pressures
- that both the churches in Azaghar and in Makouoda will be permitted to continue to worship and all churches ordered to close would soon be permitted to re-open.
- the authorities will end their systematic campaign against Christians and other non-Muslim communities
- those responsible for the closure orders to know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus