Algeria: Day care centre for Christian children in Kabylie closed by authorities

Authorities in Algeria’s north-eastern city of Tizi-Ouzou, in the Kabylie region, have closed down a day-care centre for Christian children.

The Early Childhood Home was established more than 10 years ago by Église Protestante du Plein Évangile (The Full Gospel Protestant Church), also known by its French acronym EPPETO.

EPPETO is the biggest church in Algeria. It welcomes 1,200 members for its weekly services and oversees 15 other smaller churches in the region.

On 17 April, the pastor of the church was summoned to the Central Police Station, where he was given a notification (issued by the Governor of Tizi-Ouzou region) to seal the door leading to the care centre, which is located on the premises of his church.

The authorities accused Pastor Salah Chalah of “unlawfully” running the centre, which has been ordered to remain closed “until the situation is administratively settled”.

This came after the centre was initially asked to close three weeks beforehand, on 25 March, following a visit by the Directorate of Social Action (DAS), accompanied by security forces.

Around 20 children, aged between one and five, used to attend the centre, under the supervision of four teachers, who are also members of EPPETO.

Pastor Chalah has expressed his dismay at the decision, telling World Watch Monitor the centre had no commercial purposes.

“Since it was established 14 years ago, the care centre has never been threatened by authorities, though the church premises have been inspected on a regular basis by the intelligence agency,” he said.

“The centre only exists to teach Christian values to our children in their early childhood, because in neighbouring nurseries, the teaching of the Quran and Islamic values form an integral part of the official curriculum.”

Photo: World Watch Monitor

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Date: 26/04/2018

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