Joint letter to President of Algeria on Freedom of Religion or Belief in Algeria
Mr Abdelmadjid Tebboune
President of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
Brussels, the 8 December 2020
• Kishan Manocha, Head, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
• Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
• Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
Re: Freedom of Religion or Belief in Algeria
Dear Mr President,
We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious leaders and human rights advocates. We are from many faiths or acting in a secular capacity, representing a high degree of diversity. While there is very little we agree on theologically, or politically, we all agree on the importance of religious freedom for all faiths and none.
We write to you concerning what we perceive as violations of freedom of religion and belief of Christians in Algeria, including the closure of numerous churches and a failure to renew the registration of the association of Protestant Churches in Algeria (Église Protestante d’Algérie, EPA).
Since January 2018, 13 churches have been sealed and 7 more churches have been ordered to close (see list copied below). These churches are closed because they lack the required permit to hold non-Muslim religious worship services. However, the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups, which is responsible for issuing these permits, has so far failed to issue a single permit to EPA-affiliated churches.
This clearly shows that the Algerian authorities up to now have not taken genuine steps to improve freedom of religion and belief in Algeria. This despite many requests from the international community to do so.
We welcome the recent passing of the new constitution following the referendum of 1 November 2020. The new constitution clearly seeks to further strengthen human rights in Algeria, including the freedom of worship (Arts. 34 and 51 of the constitution).
We hope that this development will lead to an improvement of human rights and freedom of religion and belief in law and in practice.
We respectfully request your intervention to ensure that:
* all the closed church buildings will be re-opened and Christians be allowed to have places of worship.
* the Algerian authorities process the EPA’s registration application without delay, accept this application and provide official documentation to confirm the EPA’s registration as the representative association of all Protestant churches in Algeria.
* All warnings, closure orders and court cases against churches are withdrawn, and permission is granted to all churches to continue to use rented premises as places of worship.
* the Commission for Non-Muslim Worship will function efficiently and fairly, that pending applications from churches are considered urgently, and that responses to future applications are made within the designated 60-day period.
We would welcome a response from you on these matters, and assurance that the Algerian Government respects the rights of its citizens to freedom of religion and belief.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK
CAP Freedom of Conscience
CESNUR - Center for Studies on New Religions
Charter For Compassion - Yemen
Christian Freedom International
Christian Solidarity Worldwide - UK
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office Washington, DC
Danish European Mission
European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom
European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights
Fundacion para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad
Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief
HRWF - Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Middle East Concern
Oasis Network for Community Transformation
Open Doors International
ORLIR - International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees
Religious Freedom Coalition
Religious Freedom Institute
Set My People Free
United Macedonian Diaspora
Universal Peace Federation Netherlands
United Religions Initiative URI - Yemen
White Mountain Research Group
French Ahmadiyya Association
Eileen Barker OBE
London School of Economics
Rev. Brian Britton
Harvest Family Network
J. Todd Chasteen
Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel
The Most Reverend Joseph K. Grieboski
Secretary for Ecumenical, Interfaith, and Global Engagement
Vicar Apostolic, Holy Land and Appointed Territories
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of the Eastern USA
Independent Old Catholic Church
Senior Program Specialist,
Global Peace Foundation, International
Dr. Muhammad Ilyas
International Dialogue Research & Awareness Centre
Faith J. H. McDonnell
GAFCON Suffering Church Network & Anglican Persecuted Church Network
Red Eagle Enterprises
William J. Murray
Religious Freedom Coalition
Bachittar Singh Ughrha
Founder and President,
Center for defence of human rights.
Founder and Vice President,
Gurdwara (Sikh temple) Geneva, Switzerland.
All Faiths Network
Frans de Wolff
Dutch Network for Interfaith Dialogue
Appendix 1: List of churches either ordered to close or forcibly closed and sealed
1. Ain Turk. House of Hope. Court verdict 20 Jan 2020. Not sealed. ORAN
2. Oran City Church. Court verdict 12 Jan 2020. Not sealed. ORAN
3. Tafat. 15 October 2019. Sealed: 16 October 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
4. Makouda. 14 October 2019. Sealed: 15 October 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
5. Tizi Ouzou Full Gospel. 09 October 2019. Sealed: 15 October 2019.TIZI-OUZOU
6. Tigzirt Church and Bible school. 25. Sep 2019. Sealed: 26. Sep 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
7. Boughni- Al Annaser. 18 Sep 2019. Sealed: 24 Sep 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
8. Boughni- Assi Youcef. 18 Sep 2019. Sealed: 24 Sep 2019TIZI-OUZOU
9. El Ayaida. 19 September 2019. Not sealed ORAN
10. Ighzer Amokrane. 10 August, 2019. Sealed: 10 Sept. 2019. BEJAIA
11. Akbou. 10 August, 2019. Sealed: 17 Sept 2019. BEJAIA
12. Boudjima. 6 August, 2019. Sealed: 6 August 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
13. Boudjima. 22 May, 2019. Sealed: 22 May & 6 June, 2019. TIZI-OUZOU
14. Aït Djemaa. 14 November, 2018. Not sealed. TIZI-OUZOU
15. Al A’keed Amroush or Rikki. 11 July 2018. Sealed: 14 July 2018. BEJAIA
16. Maatkas. 26 May, 2018. Not sealed. TIZI-OUZOU
17. Ait Mellikeche. 25 May, 2018. Sealed: 25 May, 2018. BEJAIA
18. Al-Azagher. 2 March, 2018. Sealed: 16 October, 2018. BEJAIA
19. Tiaret. January 2018. Not sealed. TIARET
20. Sidi Bel Abbès. January 2018. Not sealed. SIDI BEL ABBES
 Church first closed by a Governor order, end of October 2017. Then re-opened in 10 June 2018. Governor filed a court case in 08 August 2019.  In January 2018, this church was notified that it should regularise its situation within three months. But a closure order was issued by the Governor on 19 February. The church was sealed. It was reopened in 10 June 2019. On 19 Sep. 2019 the Governor of Oran filed a court case against the church. On 12 Jan. 2020 the court issued a verdict confirming the closure of the church.  This church in the province of Oran, was among three churches (1, 2 and 9 in the list) closed in Nov. 2017 and reopened in June 2018.  On 26 August 2019 the Gendarmerie came to seal the church. After the Christians occupying the building refused to leave and a lawyer disputed the legality of the order to seal the building the Gendarmerie eventually left without sealing the church. A meeting has been held on 27 August 2019 between EPA leaders and provincial authorities, who promised to raise the matter to the Governor. Without giving an answer, the church was closed on the date mentioned above.  A court order was issued to close the church at the designated date. The verdict was appealed. But the court of appeals confirmed the closure and informed the EPA in February 2020.  This is a church that met in someone’s private home and therefore the authorities could not seal the building. But they have ordered them not to meet for prayer.  This is a church that met in someone’s private home and therefore the authorities could not seal the building. But they have ordered them not to meet for prayer.