Persecution backfires

Feb 11, 2024 by

by Campbell Campbell-Jack, A Grain of Sand:

Growth Means Opposition When Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962  Articles 29 and 36 of the Algerian Constitution allowed freedom of religion and missionary work. As a result more Algerians came to know Christ. This encouraged others in their faith in Jesus and to share it with their family and friends. Some went on to have important positions in society, including in the government, but there was a price to pay.

Squeeze Persecution Christians in Algeria are still allowed to practise their faith, but it isn’t made easy for them: they are facing what is known as ‘squeeze persecution’. Many Algerian Christians are converts from Islam. As in so many Muslim countries for Christians harassment and discrimination are part of daily life. Their families and local communities attempt to draw them back into Islam and force them to live by Muslim cultural practices. Christians face verbal abuse and can lose their jobs because of their faith.  More seriously, the government of Algeria tries to pressurise them into renouncing their faith in Christ, with the result that in the last year Algeria has risen four places in the Open Doors World Watch List to be recognised as the fifteenth most difficult country in the world to be a Christian.

And still the Algerian government increases the pressure. There are now laws which restrict non-Muslim worship. Anything which might ‘shake the faith of a Muslim’ or which could be seen as a ‘means of seduction intended to convert a Muslim to another religion’ is banned. Such vague legal definitions mean that Christians can never be sure if they are breaking the law; one word out of place and they could be subject to prosecution. Blasphemy laws, similar to those in most other Muslim nations, are in force and restrict freedom of speech and opportunities to evangelise. Even when not enforced, the existence of such laws has a stifling effect. Such is the pressure that many Algerian Christians keep their faith secret.

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