APS : Wednesday, 20 June 2018
ALGIERS- There is no religious freedom issue in Algeria and the places of worship of the Catholic Church are known by the Algerian authorities, the Archbishop of Algiers, Monseigneur Paul Desfarges, said Tuesday.
“I’m speaking in my capacity as a Catholic Church official and I assert that there is no religious freedom issue in Algeria,” Mgr Desfarges told APS, adding that “freedom of worship is guaranteed by the law in force in the country;”
The Catholic Church in Algeria “manages its own places of worship, which are recognized by law.”
The Constitution of 2016 stipulates in Article 42 that “freedom of worship is guaranteed in accordance with the law.”
The law of 2006 sets the terms and rules for the practice of religions other than Islam, stipulating in Article 2 that “the Algerian state, whose religion is Islam, guarantees freedom of worship according to the provisions of the Constitution, to this order, to laws and regulations in force, to good morals and to the basic rights and freedoms.”
Article 3 of the same law stipulates that “religious association belonging to religions other than Islam benefit from State’s protection.”
Mentioning reports released by non-governmental organizations about the closure of some places of worship and churches in Algeria, Mgr Desfarges said “this concerns the Evangelical Protestant Church and not the Catholic Church.”
The Protestant Church of Algeria “is an association recognized by the Algerian authorities,” Mgr Desfarges said, adding that he believes that this church has not obtained the necessary approval for all its places of worship.
The members of the Protestant Church of Algeria practice their religious faith “in places (rooms or houses) rearranged as churches,” Mgr Desfarges said, adding that the ministry of Religious Affairs is “willing” to find a solution to the problem and that the Algerian authorities “do not want that such a situation ne persist.”
In this regard, the minister of Religious Affairs, Mohamed Aissa, said that “what have been closed down are education facilities, flats and business premises unilaterally transformed, by certain associations, into places of worship and not churches in the legal sense.”
The minister added that those places had been “extended without regard for the law.”