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More churches closed down by police in Algeria

Light Church (L'eglise TAFAT or Lumière) in the city of Tizi Ouzou in northern Algeria was targeted on Wednesday with worshippers ordered out of the church, and those who resisted forcibly evicted.

The day before, two other churches, the Full Gospel Church in Tizi Ouzou and the Source of Life Church in Makouda, were closed by police. The leader of the Source of Life Church, Pastor Nour Eddein Bin Zeid, was served a police summons on the same day that the church was shut down.

These closure bring the total of churches closed down this year to 8.

The crackdown is based around a law from 2006 which prevents any new non-Muslim places of worship which haven't been authorised by a special commission, although several of the churches have been regularly holding services for many years.

There's also concern over the lack of frequency that the commission meets to give approval.

Religious freedom charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide is raising concern.

Chief executive Mervyn Thomas said: "We are deeply concerned by the closure of the Light Church, the Full Gospel Church, and the Source of Life Church in northern Algeria.

"These closures violate Article 42 of the Algerian constitution, which declares the inviolability of the freedoms of conscience and opinion, and guarantees the free exercise of worship for all citizens.

"CSW calls on the authorities to allow churches which have been forcibly closed to be reopened, and to end the harassment of Pastor Nour Eddein Bin Zeid and other members of the Christian community.

"We also encourage Algeria to repeal the 2006 law, which effectively criminalises the internationally recognised freedoms of association, and of religion or belief."

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