Vice-president of the Protestant Church of Algeria sentenced to one year in prison

Vice-president of the Protestant Church of Algeria sentenced to one year in prison

An Algerian pastor was sentenced to a year in prison, he was accused of having celebrated worship in a building not approved by the state.

The vice-president of the Algerian Protestant Church (EPA), Youssef Ourahmane, was sentenced on appeal to one year in prison and a fine of 100 DZD (approximately €000) on November 665.

Accused of having organized an unauthorized religious worship in March in an unapproved location, the pastor finds himself in violation of law 03/06 governing non-Muslim worship. This law prohibits any public gathering in places without government authorization.

According to Evangelical Focus, Youssef Ourahmane plans to appeal to a higher provincial court to challenge this decision.

At least ten ongoing trials against Algerian Christians

Currently in Algeria, at least ten trials are underway against Christians accused of blasphemy, unauthorized practice of non-Muslim worship, acceptance of donations to proselytize, distribution of Bibles, or even agitating the faith of Muslims.

The Geneva office of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) says these Christians face penalties ranging from fines to prison.

17 churches closed by authorities in Algeria

Algerian authorities have closed 17 of the 43 member churches of the Protestant Church of Algeria. Some have also received closure orders, as reported by Wissam al-Saliby, head of advocacy at the Geneva office of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).

Faced with this repression, Protestant Christians have been forced to gather in homes and open spaces in 2021, awaiting a government response to their calls to reopen closed places of worship.

Worrying situation for the EPA and Christians 

The Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), only recognized association of Protestant Churches in Algeria, has 47 members. Although it was officially recognized as a religious association in 1974, it had to re-register in 2012 following a change in the law, without approval from the authorities until now.

Islam remains the state religion in Algeria, but since 2000, thousands of Muslims have embraced the Christian faith. The Algerian authorities believe the number of Christians at 50. According to other sources, there could be twice as many.

Algeria is ranked 19th in theGlobal Persecution Index 2023, from the NGO Portes Ouvertes which indicates that "state officials are putting pressure to restrict the freedom of Christians and push them to renounce their faith".

Salma El Monser

Image credit: Shutterstock/ Aliimeddah

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