Church in Chains, 15 March 2023 (excerpts)
The Algerian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on Christians has seen more church buildings shut down and sealed in recent months and by March only eight Protestant churches remained open in the entire country.
In Algeria, which is 98 percent Muslim, since 2006 no church affiliated with the Algerian Protestant Church (EPA), has received a licence and the National Commission for Non-Muslim worship has ignored all applications.
In November 2017 the Algerian authorities began a crackdown on the EPA, demanding that affiliated churches prove they have licences. Since then over 20 churches have been shut down and their buildings sealed. Once a court orders a church to close, police put wax on the door so that no one can enter the building without breaking the seal.
The authorities may not admit to closing churches for religious reasons but they find some reason to close down a church. They want all churches to register, and they want them to meet only in a specific, approved location.
Members of closed churches have been forced underground and can only meet as illegal house churches or online. Many Algerian church leaders are receiving online training. What is happening in Algeria is what happened to the first Church in Acts. They are closing down the buildings, but the Church is a group of people who believe in Jesus Christ, and they can meet wherever.
Since the crackdown began at least 12 Algerian Christians have been convicted on faith-related charges, including blasphemy and proselytism, and have received prison sentences of between 6 months and 5 years.