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Church closures continue in Algeria as police seal sixth building


10 September 2019

Algerian authorities persisted in their campaign of church closures on 2 September when police sealed a church in Ighzer Amokrane.

Only days earlier, on 28 August, Christians had prevented an attempt to shut the church, which is located 85 miles east of Algiers, by occupying the building and refusing to leave.

Church leaders met with provincial authorities to argue that the closure of the Church of the Prince of Peace had not been ordered by a court and was therefore illegal. The authorities said they would consider the issue but the church heard nothing more until the police arrived early in the morning on 2 September to shut down the building.

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It brings to at least six the total number of churches closed since the beginning of 2018. 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.

Church leaders have called for the buildings to be reopened and warned that many more churches are threatened.