He added that they resisted the police action but denounce all violence.
Representatives of the Tizi-Ouzou Human Rights League came to support the pastor, the Christians and the church, stating, “We regret what is happening, and we are with you all. ”
Another sit-in was scheduled for today in front of the Tizi-Ouzou headquarters. More than 400 Christians from throughout Kabylie Region participated in a previous sit-in in Bejaia Province.
Makouda Church Building Closed
On the morning of Tuesday (Oct. 15), gendarmerie sealed shut the building of Source of Life church in Makouda, Algeria’s second-largest church with 500 members. Makouda is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Tizi-Ouzou.
Some Christians were present inside the worship hall in resistance, but the officers forced them out, taking pastor Nourredine Benzid by the arms, according to a video posted on Facebook. Christians followed with worship songs and mock applause.
Pastor Benzid, secretary of the EPA, issued a statement saying it was a sad day for the country he loved.
“I never thought that one day places of worship could be invaded by the elements of security services with their weapons in front of children, women, old people and young people,” he said. “It is unimaginable and unacceptable in the 21st century to see such a scene occur in a place of worship and in front of pacifist people.”
The pastor said he prayed to God to protect his church and to give wisdom, understanding and discernment.
“I ask everyone to pray for the church in Algeria and for our dear and beautiful country, ” he said.
The closures this week bring to 15 the number of worship buildings sealed since the government launched a campaign againt the EPA’s 46 affiliated churches and other Christian institutions in November 2017, according to MEC. The closure orders are based on a 2006 ordinance requiring non-Muslim worship buildings to be licensed, but all applications to do so have remained unattended.
Islam is the state religion in Algeria, where 99 percent of the population of 40 million are Muslim. Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.
Algeria ranked 22nd on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, up from 42nd place the previous year.