TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria, January 2, 2019 (Morning Star News) – The official notice that a village pastor in Algeria received on Sunday (Dec. 30) confirmed what he had heard – his church had been ordered to close.
Pastor Rabah Messaoudi had won a legal battle in 2017 after local officials in the Muslim country tried to close his church in Ait-Jimaa village, 45 kilometers (27 miles) from Tizi-Ouzou in north-central Algeria. But the head of Ait-Bouadou Commune (County) and a district official in Tizi Ouzou Province in Kabylie Region were determined to do away with the Christian presence in the area and took the matter back to court, sources said.
“And this time, the judgment was in his favor, albeit slightly below what he hoped for,” the pastor’s attorney, Nadjib Sadek, told Morning Star News. “Because his lawyers had asked for financial compensation, which the judge found unfounded and did not allow.”
The Ait-Bouadou official and his five lawyers used Algeria’s 2006 law on religion, commonly known as Law 03/06, to close the church, which requires non-Muslim places of worship to register with government officials, though they are slow to grant permission if they act at all.
The Ait-Bouadou official had ordered Pastor Messaoudi to stop all Christian activity on the church premises in 2016, on grounds that its building permit was for residential and commercial purposes, Sadek said. The local officials filed the order on Feb. 18, 2016 after receiving notice from someone who attended worship and confirmed that the building was being used for religious activity, according to court documents.
Pastor Messaoudi and other church leaders, backed by officials of the Protestant Church of Algeria umbrella organization (EPA), refused to comply, citing that the order was a clear case of religious persecution.
The pastor received the closure notice on Sunday (Dec. 30) after being summoned to a local office in Boghni. The closure judgment, dated Oct. 29, 2018, was issued by the administrative court of Tizi-Ouzou.
Attorney Sadek said he would appeal.
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Source: Christian Headlines