2/28/2022 Algeria (International Christian Concern) – Last month, Algerian authorities arrested another Christian man after preaching outside of a church and distributing bibles. The man, Mohammed Derrab, remains in detention for anti-conversion charges brought against him.
The arrest occurred in Tizi Ouzou, a province in Algeria that has already seen several church closures, including a new threatened closure from the provincial governor. Due to the closures, Brother Derrab, an elder at the closed Tafat church in Tizi Ouzou, preached outside of his church on January 27 and gave one listener a bible, resulting in his arrest the next day. Authorities searched the pastor’s house afterwards and confiscated his collection of bibles.
During the trial, an Algerian judge sentenced Brother Derrab to 18 months in prison. Brother Derrab is currently detained in prison awaiting his next trial date to appeal the judgment next month.
The recent arrest and sentencing of Brother Derrab demonstrates a pattern of increased persecution against Algerian Protestants in recent years. To date, at least 16 churches affiliated with the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) remain closed or have been threatened with closure. The threats come as a result of failure to comply with the 2006 ordnance that requires non-Muslim worship to operate only in licensed buildings. However, the licensing commission has yet to issue a single permit.
In addition to the church closures, the Algerian government has turned to persecuting individual Christians as well. Algerian authorities have targeted Christian converts like Foudhil Bahloul and threatened prominent leaders of the EPA.
Last year, the U.S. State Department added Algeria to its Special Watch List for countries that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has also repeatedly expressed concerns regarding the increasing persecution of Algeria’s Protestant Christian community.
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