Algerian church threatened with closure

Local officials have begun legal proceedings against church leaders in the province of Tizi Ouzou, Algeria with the aim of closing the church.

On 2 February the provincial governor filed the case against the pastor of the church in Ait Atteli and his father, who owns the land where the church building stands.

The case is based on a 2006 ordinance stipulating that permission must be obtained before a building is used for non-Muslim worship. No date for a court hearing has been scheduled yet.

The reluctance of Algeria’s National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship to issue licences means that churches remain vulnerable to closure

The church was founded in 2006 and has been a member of the EPA (Église Protestante d’Algérie), the officially recognised group of Protestant churches in Algeria, since 2011. The congregation has more than 90 members.

The province of Tizi Ouzou has the highest concentration of Christians in the country.

Several churches have been closed under the 2006 ordinance in recent years. The licensing commission established at the time has yet to grant a single licence.

Some church buildings have been physically sealed, including a church in the nearby city of Tizi Ouzou, which had a congregation of around 700 members.

In July 2021 three churches in Oran, Algeria’s second largest city, were closed, and each building was sealed.