(Middle East Concern) — On May 16 there will be a hearing in the case against the owner of land being used by a church in the Kabylie province of Bejaia. He has been charged with allowing unauthorized worship on his land, violating a 2006 Ordinance that regulates non-Muslim worship.
The church involved is the “Ville de Refuge” congregation in the village of Azaghar, about 180 km south-east of Algiers. Active for more than five years, it has about 400 attendees and is a member of the EPA (Église Protestante d’Algérie), the legally recognised umbrella of Protestant churches in Algeria.
Since the church was sealed by the police on 16 October 2018 it has been meeting in a tent erected on the property. The owner of the tent was summoned several times by the authorities, and asked to dismantle it, but the church has continued to meet.
Since November 2017 most EPA-affiliated churches have been visited by so-called “building-safety committees,” which also ask for permits required for non-Muslim worship by the 2006 Ordinance. However, the government has yet to issue any license for a church building under this regulation.