by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - Protestant Christian Mohammed Derrab has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment in Algeria, after being arrested for preaching the Gospel and giving out a Bible in front of his church building in January, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports.
Algeria ranks 22 on the US Open Doors Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted. Believers have been arrested and detained, and churches have been closed down under anti-conversion legislation which purports to prohibit forced conversions of Muslims to Christianity, but which has been abused to ban the spread of the Gospel.
An elder at a Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) church which authorities had already closed down, Derrab was arrested on January 27 in Algeria’s Tizi Ouzou province. He was charged under anti-conversion legislation because he preached the Gospel and a listener accepted a Bible from him.
Authorities also raided his home and confiscated his Bibles. Derrab is appealing against his sentence and awaiting a new hearing, ICC said.
Tizi Ouzou has seen the closure of a number of churches.
“To date, at least 16 churches affiliated with the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) remain closed or have been threatened with closure,” ICC said in its report.
“The threats come as a result of failure to comply with the 2006 ordnance that requires non-Muslim worship to operate only in licensed buildings. However, the licensing commission has yet to issue a single permit.”
Last year, the US State Department placed Algeria on its Special Watch List for countries that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has also raised the alarm about the persecution of Algeria’s Protestant Christian community, ICC said.