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Algerian authorities close two churches within days of each other


7 October 2019

Two Algerian churches were shut down within days of each other in the last week of September, bringing the total number closed by the authorities since the beginning of 2018 to at least eight.

On 24 September a church building was sealed in the town of Boghni on the order of the Tizi Ouzou provincial governor Mohamed Djemaâ. The church building serves two congregations, together totalling about 380 members.

Authorities in Algeria gave Christian leaders in Tigzirt 24 hours' notice of their intention to seal the church
Authorities in Algeria gave Christian leaders in Tigzirt 24 hours' notice of their intention to seal the church [Image credit: Middle East Concern]

Two days later, on 26 September, police moved in to close a church in Tigzirt, a coastal town in Tizi Ouzou province, after giving Christian leaders 24 hours’ warning. The building had been used as a place of worship since 2015, serving 70 Christians, and was also home to a Bible school since 2013.

The Church of the Prince of Peace in Ighzer Amokrane, 85 miles east of Algiers, was sealed on 2 September, only days after Christians had prevented an earlier attempt to shut it by occupying the building.

Committees of officials started regularly visiting churches in late 2017, with the declared aim of checking safety, but they also asked about permits to operate as churches, obtained from the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship. However, despite numerous requests from some churches it has been reported that the commission has never issued a permit.