by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - The Christian president of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) was summoned to appear before a court on December 5, to face charges of "practicing non-Muslim rites without permission" and organizing an illegal assembly, Voice of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC) reports.
Pastor Salah Chalah is not only the president of the EPA but also leads the largest church in Algeria, VOMC said. It is believed that the pastor was charged in connection with a 2019 protest that was triggered when the government shut down his church and sealed the building. Three other Christians were charged and summoned to court with him.
Despite the fact the EPA is a recognized Protestant organization in Algeria, the last four years have seen a systematic government campaign to close its 47 churches. So far 16 churches have been shut down, with the buildings sealed, VOMC said.
Calling for prayer, VOMC said in its: “Please prayerfully uphold Pastor Salah, the three other mentioned Christians who are also facing charges, and fellow persecuted believers throughout Algeria, as they endure injustice from the government.”
According to the persecution watchdog organization Open Doors USA, most Christians in Algeria are converts from Islam. Believers who refused to return to Islam have faced harassment, beatings, and imprisonment at the hands of the state, and even from their own families.
Ruled by an Islamic government, Algeria ranks 24 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2021 of the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.