Algeria has closed 16 evangelical churches in crackdown on proselytization
by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – A major new report shows the government of Algeria has closed down 16 Evangelical churches in the past year as part of a crackdown on proselytization and perceived blasphemy against Sunni Islam, the Christian Post (CP) reports.
Published this month, the report was prepared by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan US government watchdog group of volunteer commissioners.
According to the USCIRF report, Algerian officials have been enforcing Ordinance 06-03 of the penal code on non-Muslim organizations in a move that is “inconsistent with international legal protections for freedom of religion or belief,” CP reports. Passed in 2006, Ordinance 06-03 dictates that non-Muslims can only hold worship services in buildings that have been granted a permit by the National Commission of Non-Muslim Worship: anyone who violates the law can be imprisoned for one to three years.
However, the Algerian government reportedly ignored applications by the Evangelical Protestant Association for necessary permits, CP said. The EPA received no response to its application for registration save for at least 16 of churches being closed down for not having the required due to their unregistered status, the USCIRF said. In so acting, Algeria is in violation of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty it ratified in 1989, the USCIRF noted.
“In recent years, the Algerian government has increasingly enforced these laws, imprisoning individuals on blasphemy and proselytization charges,” the USCIRF report says. “It has also interpreted other legal precepts in ways that infringe on Algerians’ rights to worship.”
“Advocacy groups report that government authorities have pressured EPA member churches to apply for status independently of the EPA, allegedly seeking to weaken the cohesion of the Evangelical Protestant community,” the USCIRF report says.
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