HRWF (11.12.2020) – 28 institutions as well as scholars, religious leaders and human rights advocates sign an open letter to the President of Algeria.
Mr Abdelmadjid Tebboune
President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
- Kishan Manocha, Head, Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
- Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
- Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights
Re: Freedom of Religion or Belief in Algeria
Dear Mr President,
We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are scholars, religious leaders and human rights advocates. We are from many faiths or acting in a secular capacity, representing a high degree of diversity. While there is very little we agree on theologically, or politically, we all agree on the importance of religious freedom for all faiths and none.
We write to you concerning what we perceive as violations of freedom of religion and belief of Christians in Algeria, including the closure of numerous churches and a failure to renew the registration of the association of Protestant Churches in Algeria (Église Protestante d’Algérie, EPA).
Since January 2018, 13 churches have been sealed and 7 more churches have been ordered to close (see list copied below). These churches are closed because they lack the required permit to hold non-Muslim religious worship services. However, the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups, which is responsible for issuing these permits, has so far failed to issue a single permit to EPA-affiliated churches.
This clearly shows that the Algerian authorities up to now have not taken genuine steps to improve freedom of religion and belief in Algeria. This despite many requests from the international community to do so.
We welcome the recent passing of the new constitution following the referendum of 1 November 2020. The new constitution clearly seeks to further strengthen human rights in Algeria, including the freedom of worship (Arts. 34 and 51 of the constitution).
We hope that this development will lead to an improvement of human rights and freedom of religion and belief in law and in practice.
We respectfully request your intervention to ensure that:
- all the closed church buildings will be re-opened and Christians be allowed to have places of worship.
- the Algerian authorities process the EPA’s registration application without delay, accept this application and provide official documentation to confirm the EPA’s registration as the representative association of all Protestant churches in Algeria
- All warnings, closure orders and court cases against churches are withdrawn, and permission is granted to all churches to continue to use rented premises as places of worship.
- the Commission for Non-Muslim Worship will function efficiently and fairly, that pending applications from churches are considered urgently, and that responses to future applications are made within the designated 60-day period.
We would welcome a response from you on these matters, and assurance that the Algerian Government respects the rights of its citizens to freedom of religion and belief.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK
CAP Freedom of Conscience
CESNUR – Center for Studies on New Religions
Charter For Compassion – Yemen
Christian Freedom International
Christian Solidarity Worldwide – UK
Church of Scientology National Affairs Office Washington, DC
Danish European Mission
European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom
European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights
Fundacion para la Mejora de la Vida, la Cultura y la Sociedad
Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief
HRWF – Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l
Institute on Religion and Democracy
Middle East Concern
Oasis Network for Community Transformation
Open Doors International
ORLIR – International Observatory of Religious Liberty of Refugees
Religious Freedom Coalition
Religious Freedom Institute
Set My People Free
United Macedonian Diaspora
Universal Peace Federation Netherlands
United Religions Initiative URI – Yemen
White Mountain Research Group
French Ahmadiyya Association
Eileen Barker OBE
London School of Economics
Rev. Brian Britton
Harvest Family Network
- Todd Chasteen
Vice President of Public Policy and General Counsel
The Most Reverend Joseph K. Grieboski
Secretary for Ecumenical, Interfaith, and Global Engagement
Vicar Apostolic, Holy Land and Appointed Territories
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of the Eastern USA
Independent Old Catholic Church
Senior Program Specialist
Global Peace Foundation, International
Dr. Muhammad Ilyas
International Dialogue Research & Awareness Centre
Paul Marshall Wilson
Faith J. H. McDonnell
GAFCON Suffering Church Network & Anglican Persecuted Church Network
Red Eagle Enterprises
William J. Murray
Religious Freedom Coalition
Bachittar Singh Ughrha
Founder and President
Center for defence of human rights
Founder and Vice President
Gurdwara (Sikh temple) Geneva, Switzerland
All Faiths Network
Frans de Wolff
Dutch Network for Interfaith Dialogue