September 5, 2019
The Hon. Chrystia Freeland
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
We are writing to you out of grave concern over forced church closings in Algeria. The Algerian authorities have forcibly closed down two Protestant Christian churches in the last month by administrative decision, for a total of six forcibly closed churches since May 2018, with others threatened with closure.
A 2006 ordinance requires that the use of a building for non-Muslim worship must receive permission from the authorities. However, the Algerian authorities have not issued a single licence under this ordinance, although churches have submitted applications.
The UN Human Rights Committee reiterated its concern about this ordinance and reports of closure of churches and evangelical institutions in its review of Algeria’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights last year. It called on Algeria to “abolish all legislative provisions that violate freedom of thought, conscience and religion;” and to “refrain from interfering in worship by persons who do not follow the official religion, for example, by destroying and closing schools or refusing to register religious movements if the refusal is not based on requirements of necessity and proportionality.”
As well, the special rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief, on minority issues, and on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association communicated with the Algerian authorities on October 4, 2018 on “administrative and judicial barriers faced by members of the Protestant Christian minority, in particular, the refusal of the authorities to rule on the approval of the new Executive Board of the Protestant Church of Algeria, the closure of Protestant churches and the legal proceedings brought against their members for the import of Christian religious material.”
Algerian Christian leaders are asking for international support. Our international counterparts tell us the situation in Algeria is worsening. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada, with affiliates including 45 denominations, 81 ministry organizations and 33 post-secondary educational institutions. We are an affiliate of the World Evangelical Alliance, a network of churches in more than 130 nations representing more than 600 million Christians worldwide. We write this to you in solidarity with the Algerian churches and Christians.
We urge you to promote freedom of thought, conscience and religion with the Algerian authorities, particularly with respect to the Protestant churches. We ask you to raise the 2006 ordinance and to request meaningful change that allows churches to meet and hold worship services.
Please take steps to uphold the freedom of religions internationally and to protect the integrity and security of religious worship.
David Guretzki, PhD
Acting President & Executive Vice President
Author: David Guretzki