Two young Algerian Christians were detained by the authorities at the airport in Oran, about 400 km west of Algiers, and subjected to a long interrogation by police on Friday, January 16th of this year.
“The two were at the airport Ahmed Ben Bella Oran to take a flight on the national airline to go to a neighboring country. Since each of them had a Bible on him, they were taken by the police, who subjected them to a long interrogation. All questions revolved around the reasons that pushed them to change their religion,” explains Kader, head of an evangelical church in Oran. After the extended questioning, the two were eventually allowed to board the airplane.
Kader declares that the interrogation is part of “a deliberate attempt to intimidate Christians” in Algeria. “This examination is unfair and violates the law,” he says, referring to the Algerian constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and conscience.
According to Kader, the Algerian law formally prohibits proselytizing of Muslims and the distribution of Christian books (Bibles or other writings explaining Christianity), but does not condemn or prohibit the possession of a personal Bible. “Despite this, the police and customs allow themselves to interrogate Christians on their personal beliefs simply because they carry a Bible.”
How is the gospel spreading in Algeria considering these legal restrictions and intimidations? For the past few years, Open Doors has been working to help spread the gospel in the Middle East through satellite television and other multimedia means. These programs are capable of reaching a large number of people. The 2006 ordinance hindering Christian evangelism was initially devastating for Christians in Algeria who faced a whole new realm of persecution if they shared their faith with a friend or a neighbor. But God has provided a way for the gospel to spread in this country. “Today, satellite TV is the medium we use, because it allows us to reach a multitude of people,” shares one Algerian Christian. “At the end of the program, people see local phone numbers displayed on the screen, so it isn’t expensive for them to call. When a program has spoken to someone, they phone us for information or to ask questions about the Christian faith. We tell them where they can find a church, or we send them CDs or Christian books.”
Father, we thank You for the many Algerian Christians who have sought to find ways to spread the gospel across the nation to those in need of the light of Christ. Continue to grant them courage in the face of interrogations and intimidation by the police and other authorities, and we praise You for Your protection of these two men as they boarded the plane. As Your Word is spread through the airwaves on TV, cause the seed planted to grow and flourish into saving faith, and lives that bring honor and glory to Christ. In the name of Jesus, whose light we reflect to a world of sin and darkness, Amen.