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Algerian pastor appeals ‘illegal worship’ accusations

Pastor Youssef Ourahamane was convicted for "illegal worshipping”, sentenced to two years in prison and fined 100,000 Algerian dinars - the equivalent of £586.

The Christian convert pastor has appealed the sentence for the second time this year and is supported by Christian legal group ADF International. He has been leading Christian congregations in the Muslim-majority country for 30 years. He is a prominent figure in the Èglise Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), which is a Protestant network of churches.

ADF confirmed that false allegations of “health and safety concerns” lead the government to announce worship inside church buildings illegal. Only one Èglise Protestante d’Algérie is open to this day.

According to Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International: “No one should be criminally punished or imprisoned for practicing their faith. Pastor Youssef faces criminal charges for simply holding worship services for his congregation. The government’s prosecution of Pastor Youssef amounts to a blatant violation of his right to religious freedom and must be condemned.”

The Algerian government forcefully closed down 43 Protestant churches in the past five years. Christians experience persecution from their families, communities and the government. Algeria has laws restricting non-Muslim worship, including rules that prohibit anything that would ‘shake the faith of a Muslim’ or could be used as a ‘means of seduction intending to convert a Muslim to another religion’. Christians are pressured to keep their faith a secret.

Most Algerian Christians are converts from Islam. They face constant harassment and discrimination. Their families and community force them to abide Islamic rules and practices and pressure them to renounce their Christian faith. 

ADF encourages international communities to support the rights of all Algerians to “freely live out their faith and worship in community without fear of persecution.”


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