Increased persecution of Algerian Christians, covert support of Moroccan rebels and criticism of air attacks against the Syrian chemical weapons facilities has defined Algerian foreign policy lately. To placate Islamic conservatives the government is closing Christian churches and persecuting Algerian converts to Christianity. The Algerian constitution guarantees religious freedom but the government has adhered to the constitution selectively depending on what it needed at the moment.
The government says there are only 20,000 Christians but there are apparently more like 100,000 and more Algerian Moslems are quietly converting. Not quietly enough because for Islamic conservatives it is forbidden for a Moslem to convert. In some Moslem countries (like Saudi Arabia) conversion is a capital offense and those found guilty are executed. Yet the government feels a need to persecute Christians in order to keep the Islamic political parties weak. These Islamic parties need a hot issue to exploit and have not been able to find one. But the government ignoring the growth of Christianity in Algeria could be turned into headline news if only the government would cooperate.