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Algeria

The Church grew to be very strong in North Africa in the first six centuries after Christ, producing such famous figures as Augustine, Cyprian and Tertullian. Sadly after the Arab-Muslim invasions the Church was eliminated and disappeared for over a thousand years.

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Barnabas supports a kindergarten for
Christian children in Algeria

However, there has been a great work of the Holy Spirit over the last 25 years, and once again many thousands of Christians are to be found among Algeria’s 31 million population, though they are still a tiny minority in a country that is over 99% Muslim. There are no official records of the number of Christians, but it is thought there may be as many as 80,000.

Christians enjoyed six years of relative religious freedom following the end of the civil war in 2000, but in 2006 new restrictions were introduced by the government after pressure from radical Islamists.

Algerian law gives Christians the freedom to practise their faith so long as they respect public order and (Islamic) morality. Conversion from Islam is not illegal, but evangelism to Muslims is prohibited, and is punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

Mohamed Ibaouene, a Christian convert from Islam in Algeria, was convicted in July 2012 of allegedly pressurising a Muslim to leave Islam. Mohamed said that the Muslim had actually tried to pressure him to return to Islam and had made the accusation only when he refused. Although his jail term was rescinded on appeal, his fine was doubled to 100,000 dinars (around £800; US$1,300).

Other official restrictions on Christian activities include the requirements that all imported Christian literature be approved by the authorities, and that all denominations and places of worship be registered. Many church groups have had official approval withheld for long periods. 

Despite these limitations, many believers practise their faith openly, despite some concerns for their personal safety and possible legal or social problems.

The militant Islamist group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is active in Algeria and was responsible for a siege at a gas facility in January 2013 in which 37 foreigners were killed. Its presence and influence threatens the long-term safety of the country’s Christians.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Leaders imprisoned for up to 60 days and members for up to 45 days; fines, corrective labour or community service: these are the penalties for taking part in religious gatherings in Kazakhstan held without state permission, according to a new criminal code. Those who finance unregistered religious activity will be liable to the same punishments as leaders. In addition, a new Code of Administrative Offences lays down a wide range of penalties for exercising the right to religious freedom. Both codes have been condemned by 119 Kazakh and international human rights groups and individuals. They further tighten controls on religious practice in a context where it is already much restricted. Pray for wisdom and courage for Christians in Kazakhstan as they seek to maintain their worship and witness. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Give thanks that 55 Christians, almost all church leaders and converts from Islam, received Bible training at a three-day seminar in Kyrgyzstan that was supported by Barnabas Aid. The participants have virtually no access to Biblical training, and so the studies were a great boost to their faith and ministry. Meeting fellow church leaders, who are all dealing with similar issues, such as isolation and persecution from Muslim relatives and local Muslim communities, was also very encouraging to them and gave them the opportunity to build up a Christian support network. Pray that the Lord will continue to speak to them through the Bible passages they studied at the seminar, and that He will bless their ministries. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Christians and other minorities in Burma (Myanmar) are extremely concerned about a proposed religious conversion bill that will require people to seek permission from the authorities before changing religion. It is part of a package of four bills designed to “protect race and religion” in the Buddhist-majority country. The government says it is intended to prevent forced conversions. The draft says that forcing someone to convert would be punishable by a year in prison, while insulting another religion would be punishable by between one and two years in prison. Similar laws in force in several Indian states are used to threaten legitimate evangelism by Christians and as a pretext by Hindu militants to attack Christians, whom they falsely accuse of forcibly converting people. Pray this bill will not become law in Burma. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for the members of two churches in Yogyakarta that were attacked in separate incidents in June. On Sunday 1 June, members of Islamist groups and local residents threw stones at one church building, shattering the windows. Then on 29 June, three groups of masked intruders burst into another building in Pugaram, dressed in black and shouting “Allah is great”. They vandalised property and posters on display. This incident coincided with the start of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. Pray for protection for Christians in the area and that the intimidation and violence against them will cease. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

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