Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Crackdown On Christianity In Algeria

I received a call from a friend of mine yesterday who does missions work overseas. He had some bad news, though certainly timely in light of the Rahman case in Afghanistan.

Though it hasn’t gotten any press attention (with the lone exception, as far as I know, being a story in the London-based Alarab Online), a new law was passed last Tuesday (March 21st) in Algeria that levies possible stiff criminal penalties against Christians. It’s a result of the increasing influence of radical Islamists there.

Up until this point, the Algerian government had been relatively tolerant of Christianity on a legal basis (though it’s still dangerous among the people to be a Christian there--you know, “Religion of Peace” and all…). According to my friend, this law will have a massive effect on Christian work and worship being done in Algeria.

The new law levies stiff fines and prison sentences against Christians who share their faith or distribute any literature or videos that promote Christianity.

According to the law:
Art. 11. — Without prejudice of more serious penalties, the punishment is imprisonment from two (2) years to five (5) years and a fine from 500.000 DA to 1.000.000 DA for whomever:
1 - incites, constrains or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or by using to this end establishments for teaching, for education, for health, of a social or cultural nature, or training institutions, or any other establishment, or any financial means,
2 – makes, stores, or distributes printed documents or audiovisual productions or by any other aid or means, which has as its goal to shake the faith of a Muslim.
Furthermore, the Algerian government will now regulate all the places where Christians can worship, with the officially-Muslim government having to explicitly approve any new Christian church (which means, in other words, “good luck”). The law also provides for the possible imprisonment and expulsion of Christian missionaries and other religious workers for the same “offenses.”

I know Christian workers in the area want to get the word out about this in hopes that the U.S. government can pressure the Algerian government into relenting on this and putting up some resistance against the radical Muslims who are in the process of overtaking their country. Algeria’s slipping quickly, and it’s right off the coast of Europe. I know the Christians there would be grateful for anything you'd like to do to get the story out.

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