“The same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5).
Monday, August 22, 2011
Closing Algerian Churches Violates Guaranteed Freedom
SANTA ANA, Calif., August 22, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- While many people residing in Middle Eastern and North African countries are undergoing turmoil, one group of people is experiencing extreme change for the worse: Christians. This is particularly true for Algerian Christians.
The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1989. Article 18 of this covenant guarantees freedom of religion and belief for all human beings without discrimination. Further, the constitution of Algeria guarantees fundamental freedoms and human rights to all Algerian citizens.
Despite these guarantees, Mustapha Krim, the president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), was informed by police on May 22 that all non-Muslim places of worship in Béjaïa Province, including the seven EPA churches he oversees, would be shut down. Algerian authorities based their decision to shut down the churches on the discriminatory Ordinance 06-03, which regulates non-Muslim worship.
The EPA has been attempting to gain official recognition with the government for many years and finally obtained it in July. However, a total of 25 individual EPA churches have not been granted official registration although they applied through the appropriate channels. As a result, these Christian churches are still unprotected by the government and may be closed.
In addition to this attack on the Christian community, Algerian officials have also targeted individual Christians. Karim Siaghi was arrested in April on charges of proselytism and blasphemy. He was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $2,740 in May. He had given a Christian CD to his neighbor. Karim was freed when he appealed the harsh sentence, but he may be picked up by the police at any time to serve his sentence.
Open Doors is asking Christians to defend Algerian Christians from this oppressive government action. People can send a message to Algerian Ambassador to the United States Abdallah Baali, asking him to rescind Ordinance 06-03 and to overturn Karim Siaghi's sentence. To send a message, visit www.OpenDoorsUSA.org orhttp://bit.ly/AlgerianChristians
"Please take a moment to send Algerian Ambassador Baali a message asking him to stop unfair limitations on religious freedom for Christians in Algeria," says Open Doors USA Advocacy Director Lindsay Vessey. "A few years ago when half of Algeria's Christian churches had been closed, Open Doors ran a similar campaign, as did other non-profit organizations. The increased advocacy pressure combined with international media attention resulted in no further church closures for an extended period of time. These campaigns do make a difference in the lives of persecuted Christians and I ask that you use your freedom to speak out for those who share our faith but not our freedom."
Algeria is ranked No. 22 on the Open Doors 2011World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. Open Doors currently strengthens Christians in Algeria through delivering Bibles, children's material, literature and audiovisual resources for churches.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.