International Christian Concern reported in a special report that on October 16, Algerian authorities sealed Church Tafath, serving 150 congregants at the time of closure. The church is affiliated with the l’Eglise Protestante d’Algerie (EPA; Protestant Church of Algeria), an umbrella organization for protestant churches.
On October 15, two other EPA affiliated churches were closed in northern Algeria. One church, located in Makouda, was scheduled for closure on that day. Congregants filled the church in peaceful protest of the authorities’ actions. The 500-member church was eventually sealed when the worshippers were removed from the premises.
Upon seeing the protest at Makouda Church, authorities decided to close a second church as well, originally scheduled for closure today. Protestant Church of the Full Gospel of Tizi-Ozou (EPPETO) is the largest church in Algeria, serving approximately 1,000 members. The church’s lead pastor, Pastor Salah Chalah, is also the head of the EPA.
Pastor Salah Chalah, head of the Protestant Church of Algeria, asks for Christians around the world to pray that authorities would stop closing churches in Algeria.
During the closure of EPPETO, Pastor Salah was hit with a police baton while protesting, as many congregants again occupied the church building upon hearing the news.
An EPA spokesperson reported to ICC that Church Tafath is the 12th EPA church closure in the last 12 months, eight of which have occurred in the last six weeks.
These churches were closed under a 2006 law that mandates any non-Muslim worship to be conducted in specific, designated buildings. However, no protestant churches in Algeria have received official legal status. Christians in Algeria make up less than 1% of the population.