Friday, April 07, 2006

Should Christians Leave Algeria?



Christians are among the most vulnerable inhabitants of Algeria. So many have been killed there since the end of the Algerian War, it's a wonder any of them stayed on. Now there is reason for them to consider leaving for good. The image from Algerian Tourism evokes a story-book land, exotic and colorful. If it was ever like that, it certainly is no longer. The whole question of Algeria, the colonization, the war, the betrayals (including the unbelievable betrayal by Charles de Gaulle after the cease-fire) are all topics I would like to treat in the future, time permitting. This article is from a French Christian website.

On Monday April 3, 2006, the parliament of Algeria, a land where Islam is the state religion, adopted a law that would imprison anyone who tried to "convert a Muslim to another religion".

The law was adopted by the Council of the Nation (Senate) after being approved on March 15th by the lower house, the National Popular Assembly.

It provides for 2-5 year prison sentences and a fine of 500,000 to 1,000,000 dinars (5,000 to 10,000 euros) for anyone who "incites, forces or uses persuasive methods to convert a Muslim to another religion".

The law provides similar punishments for anyone who "creates, posts, or distributes printed documents or audio-visuals or any other device, that aim to shake the Muslim faith".

Thus, publishing the Bible or expressing one's Christian faith outside of a church becomes a crime.

The text forbids the exercise of any religion other than Islam "outside of the buildings meant for this purpose and subjects to a pre-authorization any
designation of a building as a place of worship".

This law - distinctly anti-Christian - has as its main objective "the prohibition of proselytizing and of the clandestine evangelization campaigns", the spokesman for the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Abdellah Temine, admitted without shame.

Note: Why would he feel shame? He is obeying the dictates of Islam, is he not?

The Catholic community, "largely composed of foreigners, is the main religious minority in Algeria", according to Mr. Termine.

It currently has fewer than 11,000 faithful, as compared with several hundred thousand before independence in 1962. This figure includes 110 priests and 170 nuns, spread out over a hundred locales on Algerian territory.

We encourage our friends and readers to help the diocese of Algiers, by subscribing for a year to "Rencontres" (encounters), the journal published by the archbishopric.

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