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Algerian pastor sentenced to one year in prison

The vicepresident of the Algerian Protestant Church has been convicted of holding an unauthorised religious worship and fined with around 665€.

FUENTES Middle East Concern AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus ALGIERS 30 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2023 16:32 h
Algiers, Algeria / Photo: [link]Brux Photos[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Algerian pastor and vicepresident of the Algerian Protestant Church (EPA), Youssef Ourahmane, recently lost an appeal hearing and was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 100.000 DZD (around 665€).

Ourahmane was accused of holding an unauthorised religious worship last March, in a building not permitted for that, according to the Law 03/06, which regulates non-Muslim worship by preventing any public gathering in places that do not have a licence granted by the government.

The accusations are based on allegations that he supervised several Christian families staying in a church compound that includes a chapel sealed off by the authorities.

The pastor was not informed of the court hearing until mid September, and will now appeal to a higher provincial court, Middle East Concern reported.

[photo_footer] Algerian pastor and vicepresident of the Algerian Protestant Church (EPA), Youssef Ourahmane, / Chrześ, CC0. [/photo_footer] 


Escalation of persecution

Ourahmane is not the only religious leader prosecuted by the government, there are currently at least ten on-going court cases against Christians on religion-related charges.

Persecution of Christians has worsened in recent years in Algeria, leading organisations such as the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) to take the situation to the UN Human Rights Council.

With the Law 03/06, the government has closed at least sixteen places of worship of churches linked to the EPA. “That is unacceptable. The Algerian government has not given any authorization for non-Muslim worship to date, despite requests from the EPA and from individual churches”, the WEA's representative at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Wissam al-Saliby told Spanish news website Protestante Digital.


Hope in the midst of the difficulties

Despite the closure of chuches and the harassment, the President of the EPA, Salah Chalah pointed out in an interview with Evangelical Focus in  2021 that believers in Algeria keep coping with the crackdown as they wait for the authorities to respond to a situation that has dragged on much longer than desired.

“We gather in houses or outdoors, just like the early church [...] what is difficult for us is the absence of the fraternal communion in our weekly prayer meetings, Bible studies and, especially, our times of common worship”, said Chalah.

In the midst of the difficulties, “what encourages us is to see Christians organise themselves into small groups for communion. It also encourages us to see new conversions; and baptisms in rivers, at sea, in houses. We cannot stop the Spirit of the Lord, God continues to touch hearts”, the leader of the movement of churches said.




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