World News

Church leader convicted in Algeria

Reverend Youssef Ourahmane, the vice president of the Èglise Protestante d'Algérie (EPA), was charged with holding an unauthorized religious assembly in March 2023.

A small number of Christian families spent three days during a school holiday in a church complex under the Reverend’s administration in March 2023. The Governor of the province had ordered the church to be sealed off in 2019. The investigation concluded that the Reverend was holding a religious assembly in a building not permitted for worship.

According to Middle East Concern (MEC) – an organization defending the religious freedom of Christians – Reverend Ourahmane has been convicted in absentia to 2 years imprisonment and fined 100.000 DZD (the equivalent of $725). The Reverend had not been advised of the court hearing or the verdict until mid-September. He has appealed the verdict. The hearing date is set for 19 Nov 2023.

The charges are based on two articles of the Ordinance to Regulate non-Muslim Worship, sanctioned in 2006.

The EPA is a coalition of more than 45 Protestant churches. Reverend Ourahmane, as a senior pastor and the vice president, is responsible for a number of churches and Bible schools in several areas of the country. 

Closing Protestant churches and harassing leaders are part of a continuing government strategy that started in 2017. Even though most churches were allowed to meet freely in buildings, the government closed many of them. There are at least ten ongoing court cases against Christians on religion-related charges.

Governing officials are constantly monitoring Berber Christians, who have joined under the umbrella of the Algerian Protestant Church Association. Despite the dangers of sharing the Christian faith with non-believing Arabs, Berber Christians continue to share the Gospel in Muslim camps. Secret communities of Arab Christians exist throughout Algeria.

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