International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that armed men raided a church in Ouargla, Algeria on Wednesday tearing down the gate to the church’s compound and damaging the iron crucifix on the church’s roof.
The Protestant Church of Ouargla in eastern Algeria was vandalized by an unknown number of armed men late Wednesday evening, the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) told ICC. After breaking through the gate, the church was ransacked and the crucifix rising high above the premises was dismantled.
“We heard noises on the terrace, but we could not get out because the threat was real. They could kill us,” said Pastor Mourad, who was inside the building with his wife and children, according to a statement released by the EPA. Afraid to leave the church compound on Wednesday night, Pastor Mourad reported the incident to the local police the next morning.
The Church of Ouargla is the only church in the region and has been recognized by the government since its establishment in 1958. Mourad has been repeatedly threatened and attacked since being ordained as pastor in 2007. In the summer of 2009 his wife was beaten and seriously injured by a group of unknown men. Then, in late 2011, heaps of trash were thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats at Pastor Mourad.
Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Whether under the harsh laws imposed on Christians by the government or at the hands of angry mobs, Christians and their places of worship continue to be discriminated against or outright attacked in Algeria. We urge officials in the Ouargla province of Algeria to conduct an immediate investigation and arrest those responsible.”