Algeria (MNN) — The Algerian government has stepped up restrictions on non-Muslim religious organizations and activities.
It’s already against the law to evangelize or even challenge the teachings of Sunni Islam. But Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “What we have seen in the last couple of years is a lot of churches being closed down.”
Authorities don’t openly say they are closing down churches for religious reasons. Nettleton says, “They will find some construction code or something. ‘Oh, you don’t have enough parking spots.’ They find some reason to close down a church. They want all of the churches to register, and they want them to meet only in a specific, approved location.”
Algeria’s blasphemy laws can be broadly interpreted, making them useful for persecuting minorities.
For instance, one law forbids offending the Prophet Muhammed, something impossible to quantify. Nettleton says, “In almost any circumstance that a Christian is doing any outreach, they could face charges under this law. They can find some part of this law they say you’ve broken to bring charges against you.”
Ultimately, blasphemy laws often get used by those in power for financial reasons. Nettleton says, “It’s used commonly to settle any dispute because you can accuse someone of blasphemy, they’ll be arrested, and your dispute is settled. You won because they’re in jail.”
How to pray
Many Algerians hear the story of Jesus from people they know, the internet, or from radio broadcasts. Pray the love of Jesus will transform Algeria. Ask God to strengthen the churches.
A thriving Christian community exists in Algeria, Nettleton says. “There is a large Christian population among the Berbers. Among the Arabs, there are fewer, but they certainly exist. They typically face more pressure and more persecution.”
The header photo shows a mosque in Algeria. (Photo courtesy of Yaakoub45, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)