How many Christians are there in Algeria?
Christians are a tiny minority in Muslim-majority Algeria. There are around 129,000 in a population of just over 43.3 million.
What does persecution look like in Algeria?
The majority of Christians in Algeria are converts from Islam. They are most at risk of persecution, not just from their family and extended family, but from the wider community which includes local ethnic leaders and elders. This can involve harassment,
beatings, threats and imprisonment, as well as pressure to adhere to Islamic customs.
Pressure is also exerted by state officials receptive to the teachings of radical Islamic teachers. They use their influence to limit the freedoms of converts, including preventing them from expressing their views in public.
Those living in the rural and religiously more conservative parts of Algeria – which acted as a stronghold for Islamist insurgents in the fight against the government in the 1990s – are particularly exposed to pressure and danger.
Laws regulating non-Muslim worship prohibit anything that would “shake the faith of a Muslim” or be used as “a means of seduction intending to convert a Muslim to another religion.”
And in the past three years, authorities in Algeria have engaged in a systematic campaign against EPA churches (Protestant Church of Algeria), which has seen 13 churches forcibly closed by the authorities. Others have received orders to cease all activities.
Most Christians live in the Kabyle region in the north of Algeria. The Kabyle people are a Berber ethnic group and speak their own Berber language, in contrast to other Algerians with an Arab background.
The Kabyles were discriminated against and neglected by the Algerian government for many years. This created an environment in which Christianity could develop. However, pressure from both government and society on the Christian community remains strong.
In the Arab part of the country, especially the south, life can be tough for Christians and the number of churches is very low. Violent Islamic militants do not have a wide support base among people, but Islam holds a firm grip over the country due to the growth of the Salafist movement.
“We see signs of a new revival. Muslims are coming to us; they are tired, and some clearly and openly say, ‘We want to know Christ.’”Muslih
What has changed compared to last year?
Algeria has dropped seven places from last year’s World Watch List ranking. This is in large part due to a substantial reduction in incidents of violence against Christians. However, this does not mean past persecution is over—for instance, in 2019 there were multiple church closures in Algeria. There were not as many this year, but the churches that were shutdown remain closed. These closures are not included in this year’s report, but nonetheless continue to affect the Christian community in Algeria.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Algeria?
In cooperation with local partners and churches, Open Doors supports the church in North Africa through training, literature distribution, advocacy and raising prayer support.
How can you pray for Algeria?
- Pray that all recently closed churches will reopen, and the 2006 law regulating worship will be repealed.
- Request that converts who have counted the cost for following Christ will have access to a community of Christians to support and build them up.
- Pray for the establishment of strategic relationships between Christians and local leaders of influence, which will inspire greater respect among communities towards Christianity.
Heavenly Father, grant Your people favour with the authorities and move their hearts to reopen all closed churches and repeal the 2006 law regulating worship. Strengthen Your people in the face of enormous pressure; may they stand firm, shine brightly for You, and be kept from harm. Establish and build strategic relationships between Christians and local leaders of influence, which can be used to quell the hostility that many Christians experience. Amen.