Growing Persecution in Algeria and Egypt
In more recent years the spread of more intolerant strains of Islam has made life increasingly difficult for Christians.
Rachid Mohammed Seghir and Jammal Dahmani were sentenced for the crime of “distributing documents that aimed at weakening the faith of Muslims,” said their lawyer Khelloudja Khalfoun.
The convicted are evangelical Protestants, prosecuted when extracts from the Bible and other Christian books were found in one of their cars in 2007.
According to information published by the U.S. government, 99% of Algerians are Muslims.
Earlier, on June 3, following the conviction of four Algerian Christians, a Reuters report said that the state-appointed Higher Islamic Council, which regulates religious practice, had accused Protestant evangelicals of trying to divide Algerians through a secret campaign of gaining converts.
According to the article, under a provision in a 2006 law that limits religious worship to government-approved buildings, more than a dozen churches have been closed in the past six months.
On May 28, Compass Direct News, an agency specializing in reporting on Christian persecution, reported on the case of Christian woman Habiba Kouider. She was arrested in her hometown of Tiaret on March 29.
Police found some Bibles and Christian books in Kouider’s handbag and brought her before a state prosecutor. According to Compass Direct News the prosecutor offered to drop the charges against her if Kouider reconverted to Islam.
During the initial hearing Kouider was charged with having materials with the purpose of “shaking the faith” of a Muslim, an offense punishable with up to five years in prison.
The article also reported that in addition to a wave of church closures and court cases against Christians in Algeria, there has been a barrage of negative local press articles warning that Christian evangelism posed a threat to the unity of the country.
Compass Direct published an in-depth look at the situation in Algeria on May 27. The closure of many Protestant churches in preceding months were due to authorities deciding to enforce a February 2006 law that had not been put into practice beforehand.
Most church closures have occurred in the eastern region of Kabylie, a mountainous area dominated by ethnic minority Berbers.
"This is the most pressure Christians have faced in Algeria," said Farid Bouchama, an Algerian televangelist living in France. "Before it was discrimination from families or jobs, but this is the first organized pressure from the state."
The law has also caught up some Catholics as well, Compass Direct reported. Last December a Catholic priest was arrested for praying with Cameroon migrants on the Algerian border. This is a practice followed by Catholic priests for a decade, according to the article. The case is on appeal to the Algerian supreme court.
As well, for the first time in 30 years, Catholic priests were prohibited from celebrating Christmas and Easter services for Italian expatriates working in Algeria's petroleum industry.
Priests must now also ask for government permission for what were previously routine pastoral activities, such as visiting prisoners in jail.
The problems of Catholics were highlighted in a Feb. 27 article published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The paper said that two months previously, retired Archbishop Henri Teissier of Algiers, in conjunction with the apostolic nuncio, organized a meeting with 15 ambassadors present in Algeria.
During the meeting the Catholic leader handed to the ambassadors a long list of problems and acts of persecution suffered by Christians since 2006. Among the difficulties revealed was an attempt by authorities in 2007 to force all foreign-born priests and nuns to leave Algeria, supposedly for their own safety, due to threats from Islamic extremists.
According to El Pais, there are about 110 priests and monks and 175 nuns in Algeria. The newspaper said that Archbishop Teissier protested the government action and was able to achieve a change in the decree that threatened to expel the clergy and religious.
Copts under pressure
Egypt is another country where Christians are under threat. According to a July 7 article published by the Washington Post a combination of pressure from Islam and episodes of sectarian violence is forcing the Coptic Christian minority to turn inward for protection.
The estimated 6-8 million Copts, who live with the more than 70 million Muslims in Egypt, have suffered repeated attacks in past months.
In past decades, the Washington ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Middle East News
- Where is President Obama as Egypt's Coptic Christians Die and Churches Burn?
- Israel and Syria at brink of war as both sides exchange fire, threats
- Elements of Syrian opposition feared to be aligned with al-Qaeda
- You'll be surprised to see what Palestinians are smuggling into Gaza
- Use Twitter, go to HELL
- As death and destruction rain down in Syria, refugees flee with lives to Jordan
- Hezbollah can reach Israel with missiles, report says
- Did intervention in Iraq unjustly discriminate against the Christians there?
- With Hezbollah statement, Syrian conflict threatens to spread into multinational conflict
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?