8.01.2021
Human Rights Without Frontiers
Muslims (offenders)
Christians (victims)

The FORB Roundtable Brussels-EU urges Algeria to respect freedom of worship of non-Muslim communities

28 institutions as well as scholars, religious leaders and human rights advocates sign an open letter to the President of Algeria.

To: Mr Abdelmadjid Tebboune
President of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

Copies to:

  • 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.

Yours Sincerely, 

Organizations:

  • 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
  • Coptic Solidarity
  • 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
  • Jubilee Campaign
  • 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
  • Stefanus Alliance
  • United Macedonian Diaspora
  • Universal Peace Federation Netherlands
  • United Religions Initiative URI – Yemen
  • White Mountain Research Group 

Individuals:

  • Naseer Ahmed (Missionary) French Ahmadiyya Association 
  • Eileen Barker OBE (Professor Emeritus) London School of Economics
  • Rev. Brian Britton, Harvest Family Network
  • J. Todd Chasteen (Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel) Samaritan’s Purse 
  • 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 
  • Gail Hambleton (Senior Program Specialist) Values-based Peacebuilding Global Peace Foundation, International 
  • Dr. Muhammad Ilyas (Chairman IDRAC)International Dialogue Research & Awareness Centre
  • Jonathan Imbody (Director) Freedom2Care
  • Paul Marshall Wilson (Professor) Baylor University
  • Faith J. H. McDonnell (Co-Leader) GAFCON Suffering Church Network & Anglican Persecuted Church Network 
  • Scott Morgan (President) Red Eagle Enterprises
  • William J. Murray (President) Religious Freedom Coalition 
  • Bachittar Singh Ughrha (Founder and President) Center for defence of human rights, (Founder and Vice President) Gurdwara (Sikh temple) Geneva, Switzerland
  • Martin Weightman (Director) All Faiths Network 
  • Frans de Wolff (Secretary) Dutch Network for Interfaith Dialogue

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