Bishop Younan Releases Statement in Solidarity with the Church in Algeria

JERUSALEM, June 5, 2011 – Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan released a statement today in solidarity with the Church in Algeria, especially in the Bejaia province, where recently churches have been ordered to close. We invite you to read the statement below:

Statement in Solidarity with the Church in Algeria
5 June 2011
Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
President of the Evangelical Family in the Middle East Council of Churches
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

On Sunday, 22 May 2011 the head of the Algerian Protestant Church Association (EPA) received an order from the High Police Commissioner in his town that invoked a 5 May 2011 decision “to close down throughout the country all the Christian worship places, which are not designated for religious purposes.” Since that point in time, seven churches in the Bejaía province of Algeria have been ordered to close.

As President of the Evangelical family in the Middle East Council of Churches and Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, I raise my voice in protest against such a trespass upon Freedom of Religion and I call upon the Algerian authorities to rescind this decision.

In the very midst of what is being named both the Arab Spring and the Arab Awakening in which the Arab people are rising up to claim their freedoms and their rights, why are the Algerian authorities trying to limit Freedom of Religion in such a way? Why do the Algerian authorities seek to forbid a church from worshipping which views itself as an integral part of the Algerian people?

We are also concerned to hear that expatriate Christian communities are continuing to be able to worship, but not the local Arab Christian population.

Arab Christians have played an integral role in Arab society for the past two millennia, and have always been accorded Freedom of Religion, such as we continue to have in Jordan or in Palestine and others. Why is the Freedom of Religion of the Algerian Arab Christians now being threatened?

Freedom of Religion does not distinguish between one religion or another, nor should it distinguish between one people or another. Freedom of Religion is not something to be granted or taken away by a government. Rather, it is the God-given right of every human being.

We in the Middle East and Christians throughout the world are deeply concerned by the actions of the recent days. We call upon the whole church to pray for the church in Algeria, and we call upon the Algerian authorities to rescind the 2006 law restricting the Freedom of Religion for Christians. We will continue to monitor the situation until Freedom of Religion is attained.

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan
President of the Evangelical Family in the Middle East Council of Churches
Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.