Algerian authorities closed houses of worship that are are not churches but they are used as warehouses for raising chickens and stables with suspicious and anonymous funding sources, which have no licensed or authorized activity, Interior Minister, Salaheddine Dahmoune, said on Monday.
Dahmoune confirmed in his first response to the Protestant Society’s complaints about the closure of 12 churches in Tizi-Ouzou and Bejaia (Eastern Algiers); “It must be emphasized that the term church is wrong. We have not closed any church, but warehouses to raise chickens, stables, buildings and chaotic markets that are used as a house of a certain religion”.
“These 49 activities in the provinces of Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia and Oran are illegal places of worship, illegal places of money that come from suspicious sources and we do not know from where it comes, this is why we consider that activities inside these buildings are suspicious as well.”
“For those who fear freedom of worship is violated we say Algeria does not practice persecution and the evidence is that the state has renovated several churches. Those in charge of these illegal places were told by the Interior Ministry that they were illegal but they refused to comply with the law”.
Algerian security services have closed in recent days several places of worship in Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia, on the order of the Wali (governor), which led to protests of their owners, amid controversy on social networks among those who considered it a restriction of freedoms, and who supported the move as a strict application of the law against hidden proselytizing campaigns.