How many Christians are there in Algeria?
There are 42.7 million people living in Algeria, and the number of Christians is very small – just 129,000. They make up 0.3 per cent of the population. Most of them are believers from Muslim backgrounds; the majority of the population are Muslims.
Why are Christians persecuted in Algeria?
Believers from a Muslim background face pressure from their families and communities, making it difficult to live out their faith. The state adds to this pressure by restricting freedom of religion through legal and administrative bureaucracy. The pressure and danger faced by Christians is particularly high in the rural and more conservative parts of the country.
“We see signs of a new revival. Muslims are coming to us; they are tired, and some clearly and openly say, ‘We want to know Christ.’” Muslih, a secret believerr
What’s life like for Christians in Algeria?
It’s not illegal to leave Islam, or share the gospel, but anti-blasphemy laws make it difficult for Christians to talk about their faith out of fear that their conversations may be considered blasphemous.
Churches are allowed to exist – but only if they agree to the government’s rules. These rules ensure that churches cannot hold Bible studies, host foreigner preachers or even run a Sunday school and so very few churches agree to them.
Persecution often comes from family members if a believer from a Muslim background is discovered to have become a Christian. Church leaders report that female Christians from Muslim backgrounds are sometimes placed under house-arrest by their families when their faith is discovered. They are not allowed to meet other Christians or to have any contact with them. They are not allowed to watch TV or listen to the radio as Christian channels are broadcast into Algeria.
In the Arab parts of the country, persecution is even more severe and converts risk being killed.
For Muslih, a secret believer in Algeria, following Jesus is a daily battle, but retreating is not an option. “When you are in a war, when you run, you turn your back on the enemy and they shoot you,” he says. “We’re in a battle and it’s better to keep the weapons and go to the front, maybe we can reach our goal. For sure we will have less chances when we retreat.”
Muslih’s village used threats of expulsion from the community and isolation to intimidate him – threats that did not stop him from sharing the gospel and planting a house church.
The church in Algeria is growing. Most Christians in Algeria come to faith through dreams, visions and Christian broadcasts. Churches send their sermons out of the country to be broadcast back into Algeria over satellite TV.
How can I help Christians in Algeria
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Algeria. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors partners support the church in North Africa through training, distributing Christian literature and advocating for the rights of North African believers.
*Name changed for security reasons
Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Algeria?
An increase in violence – and in particular, the violent arrests of several Christians – means that Algeria has jumped up five places on the Open Doors World Watch List, from number 22 in 2019 to number 17 in 2020.
Lord Jesus, thank You that the church in Algeria is growing. Give Your people there more opportunities and boldness to share the gospel with their communities. Continue to reveal Yourself in dreams and visions, and connect those who are new to the faith with the right people who will encourage them and help them to grow as disciples. Amen.