In an article published recently in Newsweek, Miles Windsor, Senior Manager for Strategy and Campaigns with RFI’s Middle East Action Team, observes:
The Protestant Christian community in Algeria is under siege from its own government. The persecution of Christians by the Algerian state has been a sustained campaign for many years with the latest wave of repression beginning in November 2017.
While state repression of Christians and other religious minorities in Algeria has been widespread in recent years — involving wrongful prosecution and imprisonment of religious leaders, among other offenses — Algeria has also imposed restrictions on religious institutions, particularly churches. Windsor writes:
The 2006 law [regulating non-Muslim worship] created mechanisms for the issue of permits to places of worship. When churches and other places of non-Muslim worship don’t have permits then, of course the government is within its rights to shut them down. Though it should be noted that not a single permit has been issued through this mechanism. When COVID-19 raised its ugly head, all places of worship were closed for public health reasons. …Though when the mosques were given permission to reopen, no such permission was given to churches.
Windsor notes that the U.S. and U.K. governments have both formally recognized the religious freedom violations and other human rights abuses in Algeria. He urges a concerted effort by the West at this time:
This must be a moment in which Transatlantic and wider multilateral cooperation could be established to coordinate on the steps required to encourage Algeria in the direction of religious freedom. …At a time in which the reset button is being pressed on international foreign policy, the free world must rediscover the exercise of power, albeit more intelligent and strategically applied, for the sake of humanity.
Read the full article: Senior Christian Leaders in Algeria Face Prison as Rights Decline Continues.