Three churches in Algeria once again forced to close

13 July 2021

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Three churches in the Oran area of Algeria have been closed after a long-running legal battle which began in 2017.

On Sunday 4 July the administrative court of Oran ordered that the churches should be closed, and three days later each church building was sealed.

The unwillingness of Algeria’s National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship to issue permits means that churches remain vulnerable to closure

The churches – L’Oratoire church (also known as Oran city church), House of Hope in Ain Turk, and a church in El Ayaida – were first ordered to close by the governor of Oran Province in 2017 and 2018, but all had re-opened by the end of 2018.

The court decision is the result of a case filed by the governor in August 2019 seeking to force the churches’ closure.

Committees of officials started regularly visiting churches in late 2017, with the declared aim of checking safety, but they also asked about permits to operate as churches, obtained from the National Commission for Non-Muslim Worship. However, despite numerous requests from some churches the Commission has never issued a permit.

The three churches are among at least 20 which have been closed since late 2017, most of which remain sealed.

In May 2021, however, a historic church building in the port city of Mostaganem which had been appropriated by a local authority was returned to the Church.

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