International Christian Concern | April 29, 2020
International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) added Algeria to its 2020 annual report on the world’s worst religious freedom violators. “The [Algerian] government,” USCIRF reports, “systematically cracked down on the Evangelical Protestant community.” This is the first time in USCIRF’s history that Algeria has been included in the report, which comes at a time when the Algerian Church is facing a severe wave of persecution.
The evangelical Church in Algeria, represented by the Eglise Protestante d’Algérie (EPA), worshipped in relative peace for many decades. But as the Protestant Church began to explode in size, it faced a series of challenges to its legal status in the early 2000s and began to experience serious pressure from the government.
Between November 2017 and the end of 2019, the Algerian government closed 18 EPA-affiliated churches and, in some of the closures, used violence to eject peaceful worshippers from their churches
ICC was privileged to work closely with the EPA during earlier crackdowns, as well as in the last year, as the Algerian government has ratcheted up its anti-Christian campaign. In the past eight months, ICC has been aggressively advocating for the church in Algeria, arranging a series of congressional meetings with representatives of the EPA, organizing an email campaign on Capitol Hill, and visiting the State Department and USCIRF to present on the issues facing the EPA.
ICC also worked with Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) to write a letter to the Algerian government regarding its persecution of Christians. Nine other representatives signed this letter, and Representative Lamborn is currently circulating a second letter reiterating his concerns about the Algerian government’s mistreatment of Christians.
Matias Perttula, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said, “I commend USCIRF for its strong stand on behalf of the persecuted in Algeria and want to thank all of our NGO allies for their efforts on this critical issue. It sends a strong message to the Algerian government that its systematic disregard for religious freedom is unacceptable. I urge President Tebboune to respond to the concerns raised by USCIRF and Representative Lamborn by ushering in a new period of tolerance and religious freedom for his nation’s religious minorities. He must re-open the closed churches and protect the rights of all citizens to worship as they please.”