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Algerian crackdown as third church is closed in 2018

Middle East and North Africa

Algerian crackdown as third church is closed in 2018

President of Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Police in the Algerian port city of Bejaia shut down a church on 11 July 2018, claiming that the congregation did not have official approval to meet.

The church is the third to be shut by Algerian authorities so far in 2018, although two churches closed in the north-western district of Oran in February were permitted to re-open last month.

Church buildings in Algeria are required to be registered, according to an ordinance introduced in 2006, which requires non-Muslim religious groups to be registered in order to conduct religious services in preapproved locations.

In practice, authorities typically allow churches registered with official religious organisations and even non-registered Christian groups to meet without needing specific permission. But in recent months there has been a crackdown on a number of churches which authorities claim are unregistered, leading to several church closures, although some have been permitted to reopen.

The congregation in Bejaia, whose building has been sealed, are in the process of affiliating to the officially registered EPA (Algerian Protestant Church), an association which currently represents 45 churches.