Algerian Christians request prayer for Pastor Salah Chalah, senior pastor of the largest Protestant Church in Algeria and president of the EPA, the umbrella association of the Protestant church in Algeria. He, along with three others, has been summoned to court on 5 December 2021.
The summons lays out serious charges against Pastor Salah, and two members of his church. The fourth person is charged only with a minor offense.
The charges against the pastor include “calling for the disobedience of laws by a clergyman,” “practising non-Muslim rites without permission” and “calling to organise an unarmed assembly” (a demonstration). The penalties range from one month to five years imprisonment, with fines ranging from 2,000 DZD to 1,000,000 DZD (approx US$ 15 to US$ 7,170).
The accusations probably stem from Pastor Salah participating in a peaceful demonstrations in October 2019 in front of municipal offices in Tizi Ouzou to protest the forcible sealing of his church.
For the past four years, authorities in Algeria have been involved in a systematic campaign against Christians and churches, with 16 Protestant churches sealed, and several others ordered to close. Several Christians, including church leaders, have been prosecuted on different charges including blasphemy and proselytising. Three Christians are serving prison sentences ranging from two to five years.
The EPA (L’ Église Protestante d’Algérie) is the only recognised umbrella for Protestant churches in Algeria and has 47 members. It was granted official recognition as a religious association in 1974. A change in the law in 2012 required the EPA to apply for re-registration. This application has so far not been approved by the authorities.
Algerian Christians ask us to join them in prayer for:
- the leaders of the Church and the EPA to know the peace of Jesus, the protection of the Father and wisdom of Holy Spirit in these difficult times
- the charges against Pastor Salah and the other three individuals to be dropped or for them to be acquitted
- for the government campaign against the Church to cease, for all the churches to be reopened and for all convicted Christians to be released