Thursday, November 28, 2019
Declaration of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) MEPs regarding situation of freedoms in Algeria
Strasbourg, France, November 28, 2019- Our ECPM Members Bert-Jan Ruissen and Peter van Dalen were among the initiators of the resolution regarding the situation of freedoms in Algeria that was debated and voted on in the European Parliament today. The following declaration was adopted today, during the ECPM-MEPs meeting in Strasbourg, France, following the European Parliament plenary in which the current situation in Algeria was presented and several resolutions from various EP groups were introduced. The ECPM Members of Parliament are part of ECR, as well as EPP, groups and, in addition to the resolutions introduced, also declare the following:
We, as ECPM Members of Parliament, are alarmed at the reports coming out of Algeria in the past months regarding the harsh restrictions of the freedom of assembly, association and freedom of religion or belief. Although the country’s (revised) Constitution guarantees these freedoms, the government has been slow to create laws which would implement them, giving way to local and central authorities to discriminate against and harass religious minorities, Christians in particular.
This year alone, 12 churches have been closed and in some cases, the pastor and members were beaten up by the authorities. This is a gross violation of human rights and freedom of assembly as well as freedom of religion, and as such, we ask these churches be immediately reopened and restored to their full status.
We are concerned to hear that new converts to Christianity are being seriously harassed by members of their own community, by their own family and neighbors, in many cases. Since marrying a non-Muslim is against the law, oftentimes Christians are forced to divorce, lose custody of their children or are excluded from inheritance.
We stand in solidarity with those persecuted Christians who are arrested, standing trial or imprisoned for their faith. We urge Algeria to abolish blasphemy laws as they are deeply incompatible with a democracy and violate the freedom of religion or belief. We also call for the immediate release and canceling of charges for the Christians (i.e. Amzigh) imprisoned for their faith.
We are reminding Algeria of its obligations at national and international level to protect freedom of association and freedom of religion or belief; we reaffirm that these are universal human rights that need to be protected for everyone; and we strongly condemn all forms of violence, intimidation and discrimination that impair the right to have or not to have, or to adopt, a religion of one’s choice, including the use of threats, physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to renounce their religion or to convert.
Strasbourg, France, 28 November 2019