Middle East and North Africa

Authorities shut down church over illegal Christian literature claims

Authorities in Ain Turk, Algeria have shut down a church on 9 November, after accusing a Christian bookshop of illegally printing Bibles and evangelistic material.

Police raided the bookshop, which is situated inside the church, in October and subsequently closed down the building. The church, located in the coastal city of Ain Turk, around 250 miles west of Algiers, is affiliated with the officially recognised L’Église Protestante d’Algérie denomination, but authorities are now claiming it is illegal.

Although Algerian Christians are free to worship, they face tight regulations, which include mandatory government approval of all Christian literature. Christians are also only permitted to worship in registered buildings. Conversion from Islam is not a criminal offence in the Muslim-majority country, but those who evangelise to Muslims risk a five-year jail sentence.

The Rev Mahmoud Haddad of the Protestant Church of Algeria, said that the church had been affiliated with his body since 1974 and was accredited with the Ministry of the Interior and local government. He denied that there was any printing activity of Gospels.