Transforming The 10/40 Window Nations Through The Power of Prayer

Algeria, North Africa

Population: 33,769,669

Political Leader: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Religions: Islam 96.7%, Non-Religious 3%, Christianity 0.3%
Persecution Ranking: 31
Number of Terrorist Groups: 9
Acts of Terrorism: 258; Casualties: 1,015
Percent of Corruption: 69%
% of People in Poverty: 25%

Location:
Algeria, officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, is the second largest country on the African continent. It is bordered by Tunisia in the northeast, Libya in the east, Niger in the southeast, Mali and Mauritania in the southwest, and Morocco, as well as a few kilometers of the Western Sahara in the west.

Terrorism:
The security situation in Algeria was marked by several high profile terrorist attacks throughout the country, an evolution of terror tactics and ongoing low-level terrorist activities in the countryside, according to Country Reports on Terrorism 2007.

Beginning in April 2007, several high profile attacks were staged throughout Algeria, including the December 11 near-simultaneous bombing of the Constitutional Council and the U.N. headquarters in Algiers. This attack against a Western hard target underlined the substantial shift in strategy by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who claimed responsibility for the attack and touted it as a major success.

Previously, AQIM’s predecessor, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (SGPC), had preferred to target Algerian government interests, and had been more averse to suicide attacks and civilian casualties. Although Algerian government interests remained the primary focus of AQIM, this attack confirmed that foreigners were included as targets.

Two events helped fuel terrorism concerns in Algeria: the September 2006 merger of elements of the SGPC with AQ to form AQIM, and the conclusion of the amnesty period for Algeria's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation in August 2006.

Algerian security services expressed a concern about AQIM using propaganda based on the call to fight in Iraq as a hook to recruit young people, many of whom never made it to Iraq but were redirected towards joining local groups. In previous years, the AQIM propaganda videos originating in Algeria were of amateur quality and poorly produced.

This has changed dramatically. It was evident that AQIM has placed a greater emphasis on improving the quality of the videos, and that these videos and communiqués were orchestrated to attract Algerian youth to the AQIM “cause.” Several videos posted on the Internet, such as the series “Shadows of the Sword” and “Apostate Hell,” showed operations conducted against Algerian military and security targets that included preparations for the attacks and pre-briefings with the commanders that led the attacks.

It was estimated that the Algerian security services killed and arrested upwards of 1,100 terrorists, compared to the estimated combined killed and arrested figure of about 650 for 2006. The counterterrorism successes of the Algerian services, combined with the public's continued rejection of terrorists, have possibly influenced AQIM’s shift in tactics to the use of suicide bombers.

Despite the upsurge of AQIM activity toward the end of the year, overall, the government had greatly improved security from the situation of the late 1990s. The Algerian security services and military remained capable of handling a prolonged effort against internal terrorist threats and were a reliable counterterrorism partner.

Religion:
Muslims comprise 96.7% of Algeria’s population, while Christians make up 0.3%. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits institutions from engaging in behavior incompatible with Islamic morality.

Challenges for Christians:
Algeria is ranked No. 31 among nations that are the worst persecutors of Christians based on Open Doors 2008 World Watch List. In 2006, the government confined non-Muslim worship to specific buildings approved by the state, increased requirements for the registration of religious organizations, increased punishments for anyone who proselytizes Muslims, and made regulations on the importation of non-Islamic religious texts more stringent through the adoption of a new ordinance.

Conversions from Islam to other religions are rare. Shari'a, as interpreted in the country, does not recognize conversion from Islam to any other religion. However, conversion is not illegal under civil law. Due to safety concerns and potential legal and social problems, Muslim converts practice their new faith clandestinely. Christians report that conversions to Christianity take place.

Meanwhile, Algeria recently began a crackdown on Christian missionary activity and conversions from Islam to Christianity. In the last year, courts have sentenced Tiaret resident Rachid Muhammad Essaghir three times—once for blasphemy and twice for evangelism, Compass Direct News reported. The convert from Islam is appealing his cases. No Christian has yet served jail time on religious charges.

The restrictions to religious freedom have coincided with a barrage of antagonistic articles in Arabic newspapers, enflaming tensions between Christians and Muslims. “This is the most pressure Christians have faced in Algeria,” said Farid Bouchama, an Algerian Christian broadcaster living in France. “Before it was discrimination from families or jobs, but this is the first organized pressure from the state.”

Government officials assert that they are simply guarding against religious extremism and that Christians are under the same restrictions that govern Muslim worship. But officials have also made public remarks equating Christian evangelism with terrorism and supporting the popular perception—fueled by the Arabic press—that Algeria's Islamic identity is under threat.

Prayer Points:

  • Pray that the terrorist groups Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb will be thrown into confusion, and will not be able to regroup, recruit, or have the capacity to be disruptive. Pray that the demonic forces that are using terrorists groups Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb like puppets will be toppled, and that the people will be set free to worship the Lord. Pray that their leaders will experience conversion to Christianity. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
  • Pray for the Algerian government to continue to crack down against terrorists.
  • Authorities have closed churches and Christians have been charged for distributing Christian literature. Pray that the remaining Algerian churches will be able to stay open, preach the Word and many Algerians will be saved.
  • Algeria was a French colony for 134 years before it gained independence in 1962. In 1992, the army stopped a militant Islamic party from taking power after they won democratic elections. Since then a gruesome civil war has killed over 100,000 people. In the last couple of years there has been some hope of finding an end to the conflicts, but peace is still a long way off. No part of the country has been left untouched by the massacres and violence that have killed thousands. Pray for an end to the death and destruction.
  • The Berber peoples could make up as much as 40% of the population, but the Arab majority have tried to impose their culture on them and stopped them from using their own language. Thousands in the Kabyle region have become Christians and meet openly in their villages. Pray for these churches, that they would be protected from persecution and grow in their faith in God.   
  • As many as 2.5 million Algerians have left their country and moved to Europe. Pray that there could be more opportunity for them to hear about Jesus.
  • The Algerian government has actively encouraged the development of an Islamic Arab state and many Muslim fundamentalists want to introduce stricter Islamic Shari’a laws. Pray for freedom of religion to be allowed in Algeria.

Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors

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