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Courts order closure of two more churches in Algeria


30 January 2020

Two more churches were ordered to be sealed by courts in Muslim-majority Algeria in January under the country’s controversial licensing regulations, which have led to the closure of at least eleven churches since the beginning of 2018.

A church in the port city of Oran was ordered to shut on 12 January and the closure order against House of Hope church in Ain Turk, near Oran, was issued on 20 January.

Courts have ordered the closure of two more churches for failing to have a licence, although none have ever been issued by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship [Image credit: Middle East Concern]
Courts have ordered the closure of two more churches for failing to have a licence, although none have ever been issued by the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship [Image credit: Middle East Concern]

Action against both was taken under the country’s 2006 ordinance, which gave the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship the task of granting permits for churches but, so far, no permits have been issued, despite repeated requests by Christian leaders. This leaves churches legally vulnerable to closure.

The provincial governor of Oran first issued a closure order against the Oran city church in February 2018, but it was allowed to reopen again four months later. The governor also ordered House of Hope sealed in October 2017, but it was allowed to reopen in June 2018. The governor later filed court cases against both churches saying they were illegal because they were not licensed.

On 15 October 2019, Algerian authorities shut three churches. Worshippers were forcibly evicted from the Full Gospel Church in Tizi Ouzou city, leaving 1,000 Christians without a place to meet. Officials also shut the 500-congregation Source of Life Church in Makouda and closed the 100-member Light Church, in Tizi Ouzou.