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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 Although his jail term was rescinded on appeal, his fine was doubled to 100,000 dinars (around £800; US$1,300).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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    • Give thanks that members of a Pakistani Christian family who have been trapped in bonded labour for years have been rescued by Barnabas partners. The owner of the brick kiln where they worked had kept them enslaved by withholding their wages and forcing them to take out a loan from him. When they tried to leave, he made them return, and he beat, tortured and threatened to kill them. The father of the family died in 2013 as a result of illness and weakness. But earlier this year, his widow sought help from our partners, and they obtained a court order for the recovery of the family. Pray for the three members who have already been rescued as they recuperate at a safe house. Pray too for the efforts to secure the freedom of six others still held by the owner. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Aug 2014 00:00

    • About 1,500 Christians staged a protest in Lahore, Pakistan in June 2014 over the grabbing of church-owned property by the government of Punjab. Over ten large properties, including a church, schools, hospitals and graveyards, have been taken. Christian leaders met with the Lahore District Coordination Officer on 15 June to demand the return of the latest school to be seized, but when they failed to get a positive response, Christian protestors took to the streets. Pray that the provincial government will respect the property rights of the churches. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Praise God that Pakistan’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to take specific steps to protect religious minorities from violence and intolerance. The ruling was issued partly in response to the deadly attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar in September 2013, which claimed over 100 lives. The court ordered the formation of a National Council for Minority Rights, a special police force to protect places of worship, and a taskforce to develop strategies to counter intolerance, along with further corrective measures. Campaigners for the rights of Christians in Pakistan welcomed the moves but expressed reservations about whether they would be implemented. Pray that the measures will achieve a tangible improvement in the condition of the country’s Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Wed, Aug 2014 00:00

    • Loving Father, we cry out to You for the loved ones of ten Egyptian Christians who were murdered in Libya in February and March this year. We ask that You will bring your healing and peace to their families and friends and comfort their congregations in their loss. We pray for protection for Egyptian and other expatriate Christians in Libya and ask that their neighbours will not yield to requests by the militants to hand them over and get a reward in return. We pray that further Islamist attacks against Christians will be prevented and that the Libyan authorities will establish a greater measure of control over the country. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Aug 2014 00:00

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