Algerian authorities closed a Protestant church in northern Tizi Ouzou province earlier this month, after shutting another church in the same area in May, reports Christian advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).
Officers of the National Gendarmerie arrived on 6 August with orders from the province’s governor to seal the church in Boudjima, 25kms northeast of the provincial capital, Tizi Ouzou.
The church, founded in 2006 and with some 100 members, is affiliated with the Protestant Church in Algeria (EPA), an organisation linking 45 Protestant churches in the North African country. It has been waiting since 2013 for the government to approve its re-registration application, leaving it technically without a legal status. Although officially recognised since 1974, new laws in 2012 meant it had to re-register.
Since November 2017 at least 6 churches have been closed and several others received letters ordering them to stop their activities because they did not have the license required by a 2006 law that regulates non-Muslim worship.
Most EPA churches have been challenged on this matter, said MEC, but those who applied for permits all had been ignored, making it impossible for them to adhere to the regulations.
In May 2018, the EPA called on the Algerian government to stop its harassment of churches and individual Christians, and to treat them equally as per the constitution.