Algeria: After Christians fend off attempt to close a church, gendarmes arrive in early morning and seal it shut

September 5, 2019

The modern nation of Algeria was once a renowned center of Orthodox Christianity. The holy martyr St. Cyprian of Carthage, Blessed Augustine of Hippo, and many other saints hailed from North Africa. But in 647, the first Arab invaders arrived, and the Islamization of the area began. Ultimately, Christianity was entirely wiped out in North Africa.

Today Christianity, albeit not yet Holy Orthodoxy, is returning to North Africa. Yet as we see in so many areas, this article shows yet again that the persecution of Christians is mandated by the government and legal authorities. Please keep the Christians of Algeria who are enduring these church closures in your prayers, and pray also to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ for the revival of Holy Orthodoxy in this venerable land.

“After Christians in Algeria Prevented Church Closure, Authorities Seal It Shut,” Morning Star News, September 3, 2019:

TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria (Morning Star News) – After Christians fended off an attempt to close a church building in Algeria on Aug. 26, gendarmes arrived early Monday morning (Sept. 2) and sealed it shut, sources said.

Church leaders and their attorney had asserted that the order from the head of Bejaia Province to close the church in Ighzer Amokrane was illegal because it was not ordered by the proper governing body or a court, sources said.

Meeting with representatives of the legally recognized umbrella group of Protestant churches, the Protestant Church of Algeria (l’Église Protestante d’Algérie, or EPA) on Aug. 28, provincial authorities said they would consider the Christians’ arguments, advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) reported.

“No more was heard until the church was sealed on Sept. 2,” according to a MEC press statement.

Akbou gendarmerie forced the owner of the property to accompany them to the Prince of Peace church site in Ighzer Amokrane, 192 kilometers (119 miles) east of Algiers, at 6:45 a.m. in order to seal the building, church leader Idjouadiene Madjid told Morning Star News.

The gendarmerie chose that hour knowing that no one would prevent them from closing the building, Madjid said, adding that only afterward did church leaders and others discover the church door was sealed….

Algerian authorities have engaged in a systematic campaign to close Christian places of worship and other Christian institutions since November 2017, according to MEC. Since then, nine EPA churches and one non-EPA church have received closure orders, with seven of them being sealed.

“Most of the EPA churches have been challenged to prove that they are licensed according to a 2006 ordinance [Law 06/03] which stipulates that all non-Muslim worship must be carried out in buildings specially designated for this purpose,” a MEC press statement read. “The government has yet to issue a single license.”…

Islam is the state religion in Algeria, where 99 percent of the population of 40 million are Muslim. Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.

Algeria ranked 22nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, up from 42nd place the previous year.