Christian persecution in Algeria can be severe, as less than 1% of the country’s population publicly identify as Christian. The indigenous Christians can face pressure from family and local society. Some female disciples have been divorced, which can leave them dependent on their persecuted Christian family because they are rejected by both their marital and birth families. In recent years, a handful have been prosecuted on charges related to their witness as followers of Christ.
Churches are affected by Ordinance 06-03 published in 2006. This legislation concerns non-Muslim religious groups, requiring them to officially register and to conduct worship services exclusively in places registered with the state as dedicated for religious purposes. Religious entities violating the law can be fined and have their assets, including their buildings, confiscated.
The challenge is that the government has consistently failed to provide a mechanism by which churches can become registered officially. In 2019, the government initiated a campaign to close down the places of worship of unregistered churches. At present, 43 have been closed.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune
“One of the government’s tactics at the moment is to create fear among the Christians. They are watching your phone, your Facebook; whatever you do now, you can be in trouble. By His grace and protection, we are able to continue very prudently and watchfully.”
— Algerian Christian leader
History of Christianity
Christianity arrived shortly after Pentecost. There was a strong and vibrant presence in the early centuries of Christianity. Saint Augustine is claimed as a native of both Algeria & Tunisia. Other Church Fathers are also from this region.
The church was severely depleted in the centuries following the Arab invasion of the 8th century. During the colonial period from the eighteenth century onward churches were established by expatriates. Today, there are a number of churches of various traditions serving expatriates.
The largest belong to the Catholic family of churches. Many worshippers are students from sub-Saharan Africa. The L’Église Protestante d’Algerie (The Protestant Church of Algeria, EPA) was established in the 1970s to fulfil a governmental request for a representative association. Initially the membership was expatriate churches. However, it steadily became authentically Algerian, especially when most expatriates left during a violent civil conflict during the 1990s.