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Morning Star News Algeria Correspondent

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

TIZI-OUZOUAlgeria, June 25, 2019 (Morning Star News) – A judge on June 16 handed a Christian father of two in northwest Algeria a suspended prison sentence and a hefty fine for holding worship at his house, four days before another judge fined the owner of land that a church uses.

Prosecutors had sought a six-month prison sentence and a fine of 500,000 Algerian dinars (US$4,200) for the 35-year-old father in Mostaganem, a coastal town about 350 kilometers (217 miles) west of Algiers. The judge instead delivered the two-month, suspended prison sentence and a fine of 100,000 dinars ($840) to the new Christian, who requested anonymity as he fears for his life in the officially Muslim North African country.

For inviting a Christian couple to pray with him, an area source said, he was accused of organizing Christian worship in his home under Algeria’s notorious religion law of June 2006, commonly known as the 03/06 law, which forbids non-Muslim worship for unregistered churches. The law stipulates that churches must obtain the permission of a national committee to be registered, but this committee has never met, and no church request has been officially considered or approved, sources said.

“Incredible but true, it was enough that a neighbor denounced him and accused him wrongly, and he is condemned, all because he welcomed a Christian couple to pray together,” said the area source, who cannot be identified for security reasons. “He is frightened and shocked by this accusation.”

Police had summoned the Christian for questioning several times, the source said.

“During these visits to the police station, the poor man had to endure terrible pressure and intimidation, though he was known as a man of peace,” he said. 

‘Intimidation’ 

In Akbou, about 185 kilometers (114 miles) east of Algiers in Bejaia Province, Kabylie Region, a judge on Thursday (June 20) fined the owner of a church that was ordered to close in October 2018.

Prosecutors had sought a 500,000-dinar (US$4,200) fine and six months in prison for Amar Ait-Ouali, owner of the land where City of Refuge Church meets in Azaghar village near Akbou, for allowing a worship tent on the land after authorities closed the 300-member congregation’s church building on Oct. 16, 2018. The judge instead fined Ait-Ouali 50,000 dinars (US$420), Ait-Ouali said.

“I’m not afraid of them, and all their intimidation is just wind,” Ait-Ouali told Morning Star News. “I have the right to be a Christian, and I also have the right to make my home and my land available to the church. All this is injustice. ”

His attorneys, a group of human rights lawyers, said they would appeal.

The pastor of the church, Jughurtha Sadi, said the congregation is trusting in God for the outcome.

“We have nothing to fear,” the pastor said. “The EPA [Protestant Church of Algeria, an umbrella group] is on our side to support us. Whatever they do, we will continue to praise our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Gendarmerie had questioned Ait-Ouali following the installation of the tent for the church, which began meeting in November 2013. After the church building and two others in the region were closed and the Azaghar church began meeting in the tent, soon gendarmerie visited Ait-Ouali and threatened to arrest him if he did not remove it, he said.

The church continued to meet, and he received a court summons in Akbou.

In Tigzirt, 34 kilometers (21 miles) north of Tizi-Ouzou, a judge summoned Nouredine Benzid, pastor of a church in Makouda, on Thursday (June 20), after Islamists pressured local officials into seeking to seal his church building, sources said.

He answered accusations by the Makouda administration that the church did not have permission to meet, they said.

Prosecutors seek to fine him 500,000 dinars (US$4,200). A verdict is expected on Thursday (June 27).

The church of Makouda, also affiliated with the EPA, has more than 300 members.

These cases follow the sealing of another church building and its Bible school in northwestern Algeria on May 22. Citing the 2006 law requiring authorization for non-Muslim places of worship, gendarmes locked the doors of the evangelical church building in Boudjima, 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Tizi-Ouzou, capital of the province of the same name in Kabylie Region.

While three churches in Oran Province that the provincial head closed in November 2017 and February 2018 have since reopened, others that authorities closed last year in Akbou, in Kabylie Region, remain sealed. On Dec. 30, authorities ordered the closure of an evangelical church in Ait-Jimaa village, 45 kilometers (27 miles) from Tizi-Ouzou.

The EPA has 45 affiliated churches throughout the country with nearly 50,000 Christians. Since November 2017, “building-safety committees” have visited most EPA-affiliated churches and inquired about licenses required by the 2006 law regulating non-Muslim worship, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC). Officials have yet to issue any license for a church building under the regulation, according to MEC.

Several churches have since received written orders to cease all activities, and authorities have closed a number of them for operating without a license.

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. 

If you would like to help persecuted Christians, visit http://morningstarnews.org/resources/aid-agencies/ for a list of organizations that can orient you on how to get involved. 

If you or your organization would like to help enable Morning Star News to continue raising awareness of persecuted Christians worldwide with original-content reporting, please consider collaborating at https://morningstarnews.org/donate/?

Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

Photo courtesy: MSN

 

 

 

President Donald Trump has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s.

Carroll, a former Saturday Night Live writer, is the 16thwoman to publicly accuse Trump of sexual misconduct, but Trump says he never met Carroll.

“She is trying to sell a new book,” Trump said. “That should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section. No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?? I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video of any such incident because it never happened.”

Carroll says in an excerpt of her new book that Trump assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in Manhattan in the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996.

At the time, Trump was married to Marla Maples.

Carroll, now 75, says that Trump told her that he was buying a gift for a “girl.”

“When we walked into the lingerie department, there was nobody there, which is strange. It was in the evening. On the counter were three really fancy boxes and a see-through bodysuit. He walked right to the bodysuit, snatched it up and said, ‘Go put this on.’ That struck me as funny because here I am at 52, I am not going to be [putting on],” she said in an interview with CNN

She says when they walked to the dressing room, Trump pushed her against a wall, pulled down her tights and began forcing himself on her.

“The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall,” she explained. “Hit my head really hard. Boom.

“It was over very quickly,” she said. “It was against my will, 100 percent.

“With all of the 16 women that have come forward, it is the same. He denies it. He turns it around. He attacks. He threatens,” Carroll added later in the interview. “Then everybody forgets it and the next woman comes along. I am sick of it. Think how many women have come forward. Nothing happens. The only thing we can do is sit with you and tell our story so that we empower other women to come forward and tell their stories because we have to change this culture of sexual violence,” she urged.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Missouri’s last abortion clinic lost its license on Friday for failing to meet “basic standards of care.”

According to the Christian Post, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services determined that the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis would not have their license renewed. 

In a letter issued to interim President of the Reproductive Health Services Cathy Williams, the Health Department outlines several “deficiencies” in the clinic’s standards of care, citing cases where patients were ill-informed or were at risk of injury or death because of the clinic’s policies and lack of emergency equipment.

The letter cites one case when a patient identified as “Patient #12” has “severe hemorrhaging.” The letter pushes back against that RHS’ insistence that Patient #12 received “high-quality care,” noting that if the hemorrhaging would have happened at the RHS facility, they would have been “completely unprepared.”

The letter continues saying, “RHS does not dispute that this potential for severe hemorrhaging was a serious possibility that presented grave threat to a patient[‘s] safety. And RHS provides no satisfactory explanation for the decision to disregard guidance from ACOG, which indicated that the procedure should have been performed at the hospital.”

The letter went on to note other deficiency such as failing to report failed abortions, failing to identify twin babies before performing an abortion, refusal to cooperate with the Health Department’s investigation and failure to issue new informed consent forms if a patient comes in to have an abortion following a failed abortion.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson released a statement on Friday backing the Health Department’s decision. Parson noted that “if Planned Parenthood can show it is abiding by the laws and regulations here in the State of Missouri, it has ever right, under the law, to have its license renewed and continue to provide patient services.”

Since it “failed to meet basic standards of care,” however, Parson stated that the facility should not be operating. 

He said, “We should all agree that, regardless of the number of Planned Parenthood facilities in Missouri, every step should be taken to ensure the protection, safety, and well-being of women's healthcare. Planned Parenthood is losing its license because it failed to meet basic standards of care, placed multiple patients in life threatening situations, performed multiple failed abortions where patients remained pregnant, and intentionally impeded the state’s health investigation by not allowing health inspectors to talk to the abortion doctors.”

He added, “If you don’t comply with the law, there will be consequences. If you don’t provide a standard of care that ensures the safety of women, you shouldn’t be allowed to operate. It’s that simple.”

Photo courtesy: Andrew Burton/Staff/Getty Images

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