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Algeria: Church Leader Reverend Ourahmane Convicted In Absentia

Sep 16, 2023

Middle East Concern (MEC), an organization defending the religious freedom of Christians reports that Algerian Christians have requested prayers for the vice president of the Èglise Protestante d’ Algérie (EPA), Reverend Youssef Ourahmane, who has been convicted in absentia to two years imprisonment and fined 100.000 DZD (approx US$ 725).

The EPA is an association of more than 45 Protestant churches. In addition to his responsibility as vice president, Reverend Ourahmane is a senior pastor overseeing a number of churches and Bible schools in several areas of the country.

The group reports that in March 2023, a small number of Christian families spent three days during a school holiday in a church compound under his supervision. The compound has a small church, which was sealed by an order from the Governor of the province in 2019.

Following an investigation, Reverend Ourahmane was charged with holding an unauthorized religious assembly (worship) and holding worship in a building not permitted for worship. The charges are based on two articles of the Ordinance to Regulate non-Muslim Worship, enacted in 2006. He was not informed of the court hearing or the verdict until mid-September.

Reverend Ourahmane has appealed the verdict. The hearing date is set for 19 Nov 2023.

Prosecuting the vice president of the EPA is an escalation of a campaign, started in 2017, to close Protestant churches and harass leaders. Only a handful of churches are still open. Several Christians, especially church leaders, have faced court cases on different charges. There are at least ten ongoing court cases against Christians on religion-related charges.