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Officials in Algeria seal buildings of country’s largest churches

Police use force to eject Christians protesting the closures.

Authorities in Algeria on Oct. 16 closed the Tafath (Light) church building in Tizi-Ouzou, a day after sealing shut the country’s largest church despite resistance.

A third church in northern Algeria was also closed Oct. 15.

Pastor Mustapha Krireche of the Tafath (Light) church in Tizi-Ouzou said he was surprised how rapidly police acted to close the building of his 150-member congregation after summoning him to the police station. From there they quickly drove him to the church site, site, where more than a dozen officers were about to seal the main door.

The pastor asked them permission to gather a few items, he said.

“As soon as I arrived at the scene, seeing that they were going to seal it, I asked the officer, a lady, to give me the time to look for the keys to be able to recover a few items,” Pastor Krireche told Morning Star News. “The officer told me, “I’ll give you half an hour; if you’re not back then, we go into action and close everything.”

After he collected items, the church building was sealed within 15 minutes, he said. The pastor had been notified on Tuesday (Oct. 15) that the church building would be closed; the same day authorities forcibly closed the buildings of Algeria’s two largest churches over the objections of protesters.

The closures this week bring to 15 the number of worship buildings sealed since the government launched a campaign against the EPA’s 46 affiliated churches and other Christian institutions in November 2017, according to MEC. The closure orders are based on a 2006 ordinance requiring non-Muslim worship buildings to be licensed, but all applications to do so have remained unattended.

Islam is the state religion for Algeria. Ninety-nine percent 40 million people who live there are Muslim.

Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.

Algeria ranked 22nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, up from 42nd place the previous year.

— by Morning Star News
Morning Star News is an independent news service focusing on the persecution of Christians worldwide.

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