Algeria Orders Protestant Leader to Close All Churches (UPDATED)

(Update: Compass Direct News has posted a fuller account and analysis of the letter.)

On Sunday, the leader of Algeria's network of Protestant churches was ordered by local authorities (full text after the jump) to "close down throughout the country all the Christian worship places, which are not designated for religious purposes." The order implements a 2006 law restricting non-Muslim worship that has been irregularly enforced yet long given Algerian Protestants (who number between 10,000 and 100,000) great concern.

More than half of the North African nation's then-50 Protestant churches closed in 2008 following a wave of similar orders from local authorities. Other churches remained open in protest.

The 2006 law, Ordinance 06-03, requires that churches register in order to legally operate, yet Protestant leaders have tried for years to have their church applications approved by the government without success. The Algerian government restricts the worship of Muslims also, given fears of ...

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