Algeria (MNN) — Persecution is ramping up against Algerian believers, but if this is the first you’ve heard of it, you’re not alone. Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern says the Algerian government is using technicalities and health inspections to disguise increased pressure against the local Church.
State persecution of churches began ramping up around November last year.
“They were sending around health and safety committees which were strangely formed of officials from intelligence, security, and other government agencies, and they started the process of shutting down churches in some of these places,” Windsor says.
Another recurring tactic is the claim that churches don’t have “the right permits to operate places of non-Muslim worship.” The problem is, the law requiring these permits went into effect in 2006, and since that time, not a single permit has been issued, even when churches made every effort to comply with the new law.
It’s not just about full congregations, either.
“The issue of laws related to sharing the Gospel is being used on other separate individual cases against individual Christians,” Windsor says. Those laws are so vague that even miniscule offenses can be skewed to make trouble for believers.
“I heard about one Christian who was asked if he would give a person who asked for the Bible he was carrying his Bible,” Windsor says. “His answer of ‘yes’ was used as an excuse to take apostisism action against the individual.”
But why justify persecution with health inspections and permit challenges in the first place? Windsor says the state is trying to be subtle so the international community doesn’t have a problem with their actions. More smokescreens means less outside pressure.
That doesn’t mean everyone’s turning a blind eye.
“Since that time, actually, we’ve been encouraged by a degree of pressure that has come on Algeria from the international community to encourage a different approach, to encourage them to cease this persecution of Christians and closure of churches.”
Because of this pressure, three churches have reopened. However, they still haven’t been given permits, so their safety is rocky at best.
“The picture seems to be that we’re taking five steps back and one step forward in the hope that our one step will be enough to take the heat off of Algeria.”
It all speaks to why Algeria needs your prayer. The local Church is asking the global body of Christ to pray for boldness and security for Algerian believers so that they can stand firm and live out their faith. You can also pray that pressure levied against the Algerian Church would ease up.
Still want to do more? Consider contacting your local government representative so that the persecution in Algeria does not go unnoticed. Middle East Concern can help keep you posted about the situation so far.
“It’s encouraging to see how determined the witness of that Church is and how it is growing,” Windsor says. Pray for the continuation of that growth as pressure mounts.