An appeal court has sentenced Pastor Youssef Ourahmane, the vice president of the EPA, to one year in prison and a fine of 100.000 DZD (approx US$ 725). Algerian Christians request continued prayer for him and the church.
Pastor Ourahmane is a senior pastor overseeing a number of churches and Bible schools in several areas of the country, in addition to his responsibility as vice president of the EPA (Église Protestante d’ Algérie), an association of more than 45 Protestant churches.
In March 2023, a small number of Christian families spent three days during a school holiday in a church compound under his supervision. The compound has a small church, which had been sealed by an order from the Governor of the province in 2019. Following an investigation, Pastor Ourahmane was charged with holding an unauthorised religious assembly (worship) and holding worship in a building not permitted for worship. The charges are based on two articles of the Ordinance to Regulate non-Muslim Worship, enacted in 2006. He was not informed of the court hearing or the verdict, two years in prison and a fine, until mid September.
Pastor Ourahmane’s appeal hearing was held on 19 November, with the verdict announced on 27 November. He will now appeal to a higher provincial court.
Prosecuting the vice-president of the EPA is an escalation of a campaign, started in 2017, to close Protestant churches and harass leaders. Only a handful of churches are still open. Several Christians, especially church leaders, have faced court cases on different charges. There are at least ten on-going court cases against Christians on religion-related charges.
The church in Algeria urges us to pray:
- for the pastor and his family to know the comfort of the Father
- for the EPA and the church in Algeria, to know wisdom of Holy Spirit in dealing with this campaign
- that the appeal will be successful, that Reverend Ourahmane will be acquitted on all charges and the case against him dropped
- for Algerian church leaders to persevere in the face of increasing challenges for churches and individual Christians
- for the government campaign against the Church and Christians to cease, so that Christians can live in peace and freedom