From Compass Direct
ISTANBUL, December 31 (CDN) — Nearly 50 Muslim members of a community in northern Algeria blocked Christians from holding a Christmas service on Saturday (Dec. 26) to protest a new church building in their neighborhood.
As Algerian Christian converts gathered for their weekly meeting and Christmas celebration that morning, they were confronted by protestors barring the doors of their church building. Tafat Church is located in Tizi-Ouzou, a city 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the Algerian capital, Algiers.
The local residents protesting were reportedly irritated at finding that a church building with many visitors from outside the area had opened near their houses, according to an El Watan report on Sunday (Dec. 27). The daily newspaper highlighted that the residents feared their youth would be lured to the church with promises of money or cell phones.
“This land is the land of Islam! Go pray somewhere else,” some of the protestors said, according to El Watan. Protestors also reportedly threatened to kill the church pastor.
The protestors stayed outside the church until Monday (Dec. 28), and that evening some of them broke into the new building and stole the church microphones and speakers, according to the pastor, Mustafa Krireche. As of yesterday (Dec. 30) the church building’s electricity was cut.
A few weeks before the Saturday incident, local residents signed a petition saying they did not want the church to operate near their homes and wanted it to be closed. Local authorities presented it to the church, but Ourahmane said the fellowship, which is legally authorized to exist under the EPA, does not plan to respond to it.
On Saturday church leaders called police, who arrived at the scene and told the Christians to go away so they could talk to the protestors, whom they did not evacuate from the premises, according to local news website Kabyles.net. The story Kabyles.net published on Sunday was entitled, “Islamic tolerance in action at Tizi-Ouzou.”
“In that area where the church is located, I’m sure the people have noticed something happening,” said Youssef Ourahmane (Algerian Christian leader) . “Having hundreds of Christians coming to meet and different activities in the week, this is very difficult for Muslims to see happening there next door, and especially having all these Muslim converts. This is the problem.”
A local Muslim from the neighborhood explained that residents had protested construction of the church building in a residential area, according to El Watan.
“What’s happening over there is a shame and an offense to Muslims,” he told El Watan. “We found an old woman kissing a cross … they could offer money or mobile phones to students to win their sympathies and sign them up. We won’t let them exercise their faith even if they have authorization. There’s a mosque for those who want to pray to God. This is the land of Islam.”
Ourahmane said he believes that Islamists, and maybe even the government, were behind the protests.
“Maybe this is a new tactic they are trying to use to prevent churches from meeting,” he said. “Instead of coming by force and closing the church, the local police use the Muslim fundamentalists. That’s my analysis, anyhow.”
Recent growth of the church in Algeria is difficult for Muslims to accept, according to Ourahmane, despite public discourse among the nation’s intellectuals advocating for religious freedoms. . . Increasing numbers of people who come from Islam are like a stab for the Muslim community, said Ourahmane.
The Algerian government has the responsibility to face up to the changing face of its country and to grant Christians the freedom to meet and worship, said Ourahmane.
“The local authorities and especially the Algerian government need to be challenged in this all the time,” he said. “They have to be challenged: ‘Don’t you recognize the situation here?’ I mean we’re talking of tens of thousands of believers, not just a few.”
There are around 64 churches in the Kabylie region, where most Algerian Christians live, as well as house groups, according to Ourahmane. The Kabylie region is populated by Berbers, an indigenous people of North Africa. See Hugh on the matter of Berber identity here.
“There are lots of healings and deliverance, and people are experiencing new things in their life,” Ourahmane said of the Algerian churches. “They are finding hope in Christ which they have never experienced before.”
May the Living God richly bless the new Christians of Algeria with faith, courage and *joy*; may they continue to multiply. (When I pray for the spread of the gospel in Muslim lands I pray specially that brothers and male cousins will be converted together, since in that culture, if a bunch of brothers or cousins all become Christians at once, they can look out for each other and their families; similarly, I pray for conversion of heads of clans, and of couples; one hears so many stories of formerly-Muslim couples discovering that their marriages become so much happier when they start living as Christians, that they are perfectly prepared to *die* rather than return into the misery they experienced as Muslims).
What got me in this report was the Muslim whining about being afraid that Muslim young people would be 'lured' to convert to Christianity by bribes of 'money or mobile phones'.
Projection, projection, projection. Bribery is what *Muslims* regularly do, anywhere they don't have power or numbers, as yet, to *force* conversions by kidnap, rape and violence.
I've been using the Barnabas Fund prayer booklets for about six months now, and those booklets include the disturbing news that just about all over - in poor regions of Africa, in the Caribbean, and even in *London* - Muslim da'wa snake oil sellers (bankrolled, presumably, by Iran or by the abominable House of Saud, depending on whether they're Shiite or Saudi) are offering bribes and economic blackmail of all kinds (e.g. 'convert to Islam and your kid can attend this nice shiny new school'; but fuggedaboutit if you haven't converted) to get people into the mosques.
The Muslims accuse the Christians - falsely - of doing what they, Muslims, do all the time. The ugly supremacism of Islam is exposed in that they clearly feel it's fine to use bribery themselves, but no-one else is allowed to; at the same time, they just can't see that Christians DON'T use bribery anyway...because Christians don't *have* to!