Because foreign pastors and teachers were denied visas for Algeria, the Full Gospel Church of Tizi Ouzou had to cancel a seminar this spring. The seminar was to provide biblical teaching for Christians of several churches in northern Algeria.
The Algerian authorities refused to grant visas to these foreigners without giving a reason to justify the refusal. According to a source close to the church, the Algerian state doesn’t grant visas to those who have been identified as pastors or Christian teachers. It is not the first time this happened.
This hardened attitude toward foreign Christian clerics followed the 2006 enactment of the law governing all religious non-Islamic worship in the country. This law, which was directed especially against the Protestant community, was adopted under the pressure of Islamic political parties who had denounced the West for evangelizing Algeria.
Although these foreign Christian workers don’t evangelize and limit their work to teaching seminars inside the church buildings, the Algerian authorities continue to refuse them visas. “Imams and Muslim theologians from other countries easily receive visas when they are invited by the Muslim religious associations to speak at seminars in Algeria, but Christians are denied visas,” says one Algerian church leader. “It’s unfair. Imams from abroad can move around, whereas the men of the church are considered unwelcome in Algeria.”