29/02/2008

The destructive action of the Evangelists in Algeria

According to an article published last Monday by Le Figaro, the situation of Christians in Algeria today is very worrying. Many of them were arrested for proselytizing when their only crime is to pray outside a place of worship, or simply being a Christian and likely to influence Muslims in their faith.

In February 2006, a law was passed to ensure « respect and tolerance » between different faiths. It is actually designed to protect Muslims from any temptation to conversion, and as such is contrary to a fundamental freedom, wich is the freedom of religion. Nevertheless, the fault is not only to put in the hands of Muslim fundamentalists.

Since the founding of the Society of Missionaries of Africa by Cardinal Lavigerie in 1868, Christians have known different conditions in Algeria. As was stated by Mgr Teissier, Archbishop of Algiers, at a conference of the UCSIA in Antwerp, the situation of Christians in Algeria is never gained. But if their situation now seems again precarious, it is primarily due to the action of the new evangelists in the region.

Coming from the United States, they are from a fundamentalist trend and swarm now around the world. They have a great credit to the current Bush administration and thus benefit from the protection of American embassies to become rooted in some parts of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Hard defenders of Israel, these new Evangelists have embarked on a crusade against Muslims.

They often based their strategy on the « divide and conquer » principle and choose their targets among separatist minorities. To take the case of Algeria, the evangelists proselytizing is exempt particularly in Kabylie. In this region, the evangelists are trying to convert the poorest giving to the one school aid, to the other money or even a visa to the United States. They seem to achieve their ends  since some people in Algeria are now qualifying this region as « a weak link, in the process of evangelization. »

Christians in Algeria are assimilated to the Evangelists and sometimes more severely affected the reaction of Muslim authorities because they don’t benefit like them from the protection of diplomatic authorities. But Christians in Algeria have always ruled out proselytizing, providing assistance to all irrespective of their faiths, denying conversions of Muslims against their community. Through this type of behavior they create over time a climate of confidence between them and the Algerian people. But today’s fragile confidence is now undermined by the action of the Evangelists.

As long as they are under the wing of Washington, nothing seems to be able to counter the spread of these « new crusaders ». Let us hope that the next occupant of the White House will open his eyes and remove his support to this harmful community.

N.J.O.