Algerian Believer Faces Loss of Inheritance

April 24, 2013 by Open Doors in General


Persecution in Algeria takes many forms- verbal and physical abuse, forced divorce, denigration and slander in the media from Islamist parties, and most recently, the loss of family inheritance under a law inspired by the Islamic Sharia. This is the case for Algerian believer Mecheri Benslama.

Mecheri Benslama, a 55-year-old Christian from Laghouat in northern Algeria, risks losing his family inheritance because of his faith. On January 13th his brother, a Muslim, brought a court case against him using the Algerian family law. Using the law, which was adopted in 1984, his brother intends to deprive Mecheri of his family heritage. Article 138 of this law stipulates that an apostate (someone who leaves Islam) cannot inherit from a Muslim. His brother also filed a complaint accusing Mecheri of offending the prophet of Islam and the Quran by wanting to convert members of the family.

Mahmoud, the pastor of Mecheri’s one hundred member strong church, is providing spiritual support during this difficult time. Mahmoud tells us this is not the first time Mecheri has faced accusations. “Previously he was summoned by the police on complaints of apostasy. They asked him to confess Mohammed and Allah, but he refused, telling them that he was a Christian.” Mahmoud sees this case as yet another injustice committed against Christians in Algeria. “It is an injustice to disinherit someone because he does not share the same religious beliefs. The situation is leading to a family tragedy,” says the pastor.

This kind of legal hassle is not an isolated event. Theologians and Christian teachers invited by the Protestant Church of Algeria are regularly denied visas. Despite assurances from the Algerian government of the freedom of movement for church teachers, obtaining a visa has proven nearly impossible. Five foreign teachers are currently waiting for news about their visas.

The five teachers have been invited to attend activities of the church. According to church leader Mustapha Krim, the teachers are needed to provide valuable education for the church. “We agreed with the Ministry of Religious Affairs to facilitate visas those people, but the authorities failed to meet this promise. We received no response to the requests we sent.”

The church has made every effort to comply with the government’s request that they make the purpose of the visits crisp and clear. Unfortunately, the authorities have not demonstrated an equal level of cooperation. “When we ask the Ministry of Religious Affairs about the visa applications, we are told that they have been passed on, but when we then ask the consulates, they inform us that they have not received anything.” The reason for this hassle to get visas remains unclear to the church leader. “Maybe they are unwilling to give out visas or maybe they suspect the teachers of forbidden activities.”

Father, we bring before You these legal problems of Christians in Algeria. We pray for Mecheri that you will provide for him as his brother protests his part in the family inheritance and accuses him of leading the family away from Islam. Grant him wisdom and protection as he works through these unjust legal matters. And we pray for the Protestant Church of Algeria as they seek visas for those they have invited to take part in their church activities, to help in educating the people about Your Word. Raise up those in the local church who might be trained to lead in the education of the church as well, that Your church would grow in knowledge and faith in the midst of this opposition. In the name of Jesus who protects and grows His church, Amen.

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