Christians are a tiny minority in Algeria, comprising 139,000 (0.3%) of the country’s total population of just over 45 million.
Whether from family, the community or the state, believers in Algeria encounter many obstacles to expressing their faith.
Most Algerian Christians are converts from Islam. They can face discrimination, harassment and pressure to follow Islamic customs from family members and the wider community. More recently, Christians have increasingly experienced restrictions and pressure from state officials to renounce their faith; many of these officials come under the influence of radical Islamic teachers.
Laws that regulate non-Muslim worship are also used to quell the influence of Christianity. This includes prohibition of anything that would ‘shake the faith of a Muslim’ or could be used as a ‘means of seduction intending to convert a Muslim to another religion’. These laws are sufficiently vague to be used to target and harass believers.
Meanwhile, 16 previously closed church buildings remained sealed, while other churches were ordered to close during the past year. Several other churches have had to cease their activities.
Both in public and private, Christian women can experience intense hostility to their faith. In many cases, this is compounded by the low status given to women in Algeria.
In more public settings, such as workplaces, schools and universities, those who follow Jesus can face harassment (particularly if they don't wear a veil), sexual assault and death threats. In private, those who convert from Islam are acutely at risk of beatings, harassment, threats and house arrest, as well as forced marriage or (for married women) divorce.
Christian men are prone to harassment in workplaces and communal spaces, with the loss of work having a crippling impact on families. While uncommon, men can be imprisoned for their faith.
Male converts can face additional challenges closer to home. These include rejection, ostracism, beatings, insults and threats from family members and the wider community. They can even be taken by force to the local mosque to pressurise them into returning to Islam. As with female converts, many Christian men are forced to keep their faith secret.
Yes, resulting in Algeria jumping three places to number 19 in the World Watch List. Persecution has significantly worsened in the past year, with Christians becoming very vulnerable to state pressure alongside the ongoing societal pressures that can come from families and communities.
Last year, at least ten Christians were sentenced for charges including ‘practising worship without prior approval’, ‘shaking the faith of a Muslim’ and ‘poisoning the minds of youths’. Additionally, the government has continued to structurally undermine the church in several ways, including ordering churches to close and cease activities.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Algeria. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works with local partners and churches in North Africa to provide leadership training, discipleship, livelihood support, Bibles and pastoral care.
Heavenly Father, strengthen our Algerian brothers and sisters in the face of opposition. Help them to persevere and hold onto You, and may their words and witness lead others to You. Heal all those who carry wounds from persecution, and provide for all those who have suffered loss. Soften the hearts of the authorities, both locally and nationally, so they can see the value and good intentions of Christians. May this lead to greater freedom for Christians, including the reopening of churches that have been closed. Continue to do wonderful things in and through the lives of Your church in Algeria. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.