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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #24

ALGERIA

 

Country rank

24

Persecution score

69.61

Last year’s rank

17

Region

Middle East  North Africa

Persecution Type

Islamic oppression (Very strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Strong), Clan oppression (Medium)

Persecution Level

Very High

Population

43,333,000

Christians

129,000 (0.3%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).

Main Religion

Islam

Government

Presidential Republic

Leader

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

 In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Algeria through:

• Christian literature distribution
• Biblical training
• Socio-economic development

ABOUT ALGERIA

What does persecution look like in Algeria?

The majority of Christians in Algeria are converts from Islam. They are most at risk of persecution, not just from their family and extended family, but from the wider community which includes local ethnic leaders and elders. This can involve harassment, beatings, threats and imprisonment, as well as pressure to adhere to Islamic customs.  
Pressure is also exerted by state officials receptive to the teachings of radical Islamic teachers. They use their influence to limit the freedoms of converts, including preventing them from expressing their views in public. 
Those living in the rural and religiously more conservative parts of Algeria – which acted as a stronghold for Islamist insurgents in the fight against the government in the 1990s – are particularly exposed to pressure and danger. 
Laws regulating non-Muslim worship prohibit anything that would “shake the faith of a Muslim” or be used as “a means of seduction intending to convert a Muslim to another religion.” 
And in the past three years, authorities in Algeria have engaged in a systematic campaign against EPA churches (Protestant Church of Algeria), which has seen 13 churches forcibly closed by the authorities. Others have received orders to cease all activities. 

How women experience persecution

Despite the introduction of a law in 2016 punishing violence and sexual harassment, Algerian women continue to be disadvantaged in law and society. This exacerbates the persecution experienced by Christian women.

Converting from Islam to Christianity is forbidden and a very dangerous step for someone to make. It can result in beatings, harassment, threats or even imprisonment from family – and this is especially the case for women. Restrictions are placed on having meaningful fellowship with others, and they are even prevented from accessing Christian media.

Given the risks, many women who convert to Christianity hide their faith. But if it’s discovered, forced marriage is a very real possibility to lure them back to Islam. If already married, they will likely face divorce and be denied the right to raise their children. Evicted women can end up on the streets because of financial hardship.

There is added difficulty in the public sphere for Christian women. They can face intimidation in the workplace or in education, or lose their job. Failure to wear the veil can lead to harassment. They are also vulnerable to sexual assault and death threats.  

How men experience persecution

Men who follow Jesus regularly experience financial hardship caused by workplace harassment and even loss of employment. This can be crippling for families who rely on the father’s income to put food on the table. 

Men who have converted from Islam are particularly susceptible to persecution. They can suffer ostracism from not just their family but also the wider community, and even be forced out from their own homes.

Following the peaceful protests against church closures in 2020, it was mostly men who were detained.  

What has changed this year?

Algeria has dropped seven places from last year’s World Watch List ranking. This is in large part due to a substantial reduction in incidents of violence against Christians. However, this does not mean past persecution is over—for instance, in 2019 there were multiple church closures in Algeria. There were not as many this year, but the churches that were shutdown remain closed. These closures are not included in this year’s report, but nonetheless continue to affect the Christian community in Algeria.  

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

Most Christians live in the Kabyle region in the north of Algeria. The Kabyle people are a Berber ethnic group and speak their own Berber language, in contrast to other Algerians with an Arab background. 
The Kabyles were discriminated against and neglected by the Algerian government for many years. This created an environment in which Christianity could develop. However, pressure from both government and society on the Christian community remains strong.
In the Arab part of the country, especially the south, life can be tough for Christians and the number of churches is very low. Violent Islamic militants do not have a wide support base among people, but Islam holds a firm grip over the country due to the growth of the Salafist movement. 

How can I help Christians in Algeria?

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Algeria?

In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in North Africa through training, literature distribution, advocacy and raising prayer support. 

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters in Algeria, and other countries in the World Watch List they are loved and remembered by you.

Pray

– Pray that all recently closed churches will reopen, and the 2006 law regulating worship will be repealed. 
– Request that converts who have counted the cost for following You will have access to a community of Christians to support and build them up.
– Pray for the establishment of strategic relationships between Christians and local leaders of influence, which will inspire greater respect among communities towards Christianity. 

A PRAYER FOR ALGERIA

Heavenly Father, grant Your people favor with the authorities and move their hearts to reopen all closed churches and repeal the 2006 law regulating worship. Strengthen Your people in the face of enormous pressure; may they stand firm, shine brightly for You, and be kept from harm. Establish and build strategic relationships between Christians and local leaders of influence, which can be used to quell the hostility that many Christians experience. Amen.