The pastor of a church in southern Algeria has reported the details of a fresh attack on his church – the third of its kind – which he says proves that some Algerians are against the presence of churches in their country.
The pastor, who wishes to remain nameless, said his church was attacked on November 12 at around 11pm by a group which attempted to set fire to the church.
“A group of people tried to get inside the church,” he said. “From the outside the attackers set fire to a tyre and they tried to throw the tyre inside the building. But as this did not work (because the fence and barbed wire proved to be too high) they tried to enter through the church gate. Then they tried to smash the gate to enter the building.”
The attackers dispersed after the arrival of police, but none were arrested, although the pastor said he would register a complaint with the police. He added that he believed the attack was a sign that the group were against the existence of a church in the city.
“There are people who try to intimidate us to push us out of here. I think it is the growth of our community that disturbs them,” he said.
In 2010, a group succeeded in breaking through the gates and entering into the church. They then attempted to steal the crucifix from the roof of the church.
Then, in November 2012, the pastor received death threats following the release of the controversial film, Innocence of Muslims, considered by many to be anti-Islam. The threats also detailed plans to burn down the church.
This time, the attack against the church coincided with the celebration of the Muslim festival of Ashura. To help protect against these attacks and to identify the perpetrators, the EPA (Protestant Church of Algeria) plans to install surveillance cameras around the church.