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Barnabas Update – August 21st 2019

Call for freedom of worship in Algeria

Barnabas Fund, 19 August 2019

Church leaders called on Algerian authorities to guarantee freedom of worship after the closure in August of a second church in Tizi Ouzou province.

Officials sealed the church on the instructions of the provincial governor. It was also on his orders that another church in the town was sealed on 27 May.

The World Evangelical Alliance “deeply regretted” the latest action, which brought the number of forced church closures in Algeria to at least five since the beginning of 2018. “Many more churches are threatened with closure, amid denial of formal registration by authorities,” it added.

Officials started regularly visiting churches in late 2017, asking about permits to operate as churches from the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship. However, despite numerous requests, it has been reported that the commission has never issued a permit.

Concerns remain high that Islamist extremists will attempt to fill the political vacuum left by the departure of 82-year-old President Bouteflika in April.