Authorities in Algeria close churches

Authorities in Algeria close churches

RIKI, Algeria — A worship building was closed in Bejaia Province on July 11, the seventh closure in Algeria since November.

The church of about 60 people, which began meeting at its building in Riki on Aug. 11, 2017, had not been able to affiliate with the Protestant Church of Algeria because the Ministry of Interior recently ordered the once legally recognized association to freeze all new applications for membership, said Esaid Benamara, pastor of the Riki church.

Church leaders suspect lack of registration was the pretext for the closure. Though the Algerian constitution’s Article 42 guarantees freedom of belief, opinion and worship, it is virtually impossible to register a church in Algeria under current restrictions, Christian leaders said.

Three church buildings previously closed, all in Oran Province about 250 miles west of Algiers, were allowed to reopen in June.

Algeria ranked 42nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. (MS)