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Algerian government orders church closure

by Ruth Sax

Algerian Christians request prayer for a church in the city of Oran after a court ordered its closure on 12th January. Twelve churches affiliated with the EPA (Église Protestante d'Algérie), the umbrella organisation for Protestant churches, have been ordered closed since November 2017.

In January 2018 the church had been ordered to "regularise" its situation within three months. Restrictions placed on the Church at that time included limiting activities to weekly worship only and prohibiting foreigners to serve in the church.
In February 2018, the Governor of Oran issued a closure order and the church was sealed. On 10th  June, 2018 the church was allowed to reopen. However, in September 2019 the Governor filed a court case against the church asking for its closure becuase it does not have a license according to "Ordinance 03-06 to Regulate the Worship of non-Muslim Creeds."

That ordinance, issued in February 2006, stipulates that permission must be obtained before using a building for non-Muslim worship. However, authorities have failed to grant any permission to churches, including those affiliated with the EPA. Therefore it has become standard practice for churches affiliated with the EPA to rent premises and then to inform municipal and regional security authorities.

This is the second time Algerian courts have ruled that churches are considered illegal if they lack a permission from the "national commission for non-Musilm worship." The church of Oran will appeal the sentence.


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