Quotes: US MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Catholics 'welcome' in Algeria 20 years after sectarian killings  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 09/05/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Twenty years ago, Islamists shot dead a Roman Catholic brother and nun as they helped young Algerians prepare for exams, the first of 19 Christians murdered during the country's devastating civil war.

But members of the small religious community insist their suffering was no different to what all Algerians experienced during the so-called "black decade" and say they feel welcome today.

Brother Henri Verges and Sister Paul-Helene Saint Raymond belonged to religious orders dedicated to supporting deprived children, and in their case, educating young Muslims in Algiers.

But their mission was violently ended on May 8, 1994, by gunmen who sprayed them with bullets in a library in the Casbah where they worked.

Like the seven French monks at the Tibehirine monastery south of Algiers who were killed two years later, they knew their lives were at risk in the capital's old city.

Six months earlier, the Islamists had demanded that all foreigners leave the country.

But the archbishop of Algiers, Ghaleb Bader, denies that Christians were persecuted during the civil war, which raged throughout the 1990s and left up to 200,000 people dead.

"All the Algerian people were victims of this violence, which is not possible to explain," he said.

"There was no persecution of Christians. The church had its share of suffering, paying (like everyone) for the blind violence that struck indiscriminately."

Sister Veronica, who arrived in Algeria in 1997, agrees.

Behind her, on a wall of the Bencheneb library, with its colonnades and mosaics, hangs a picture of Henri Verges.

"These are people who paid with their lives like the Algerians," she says, "with the difference that they had the chance to leave, but chose to stay out of loyalty."

The Casbah library, which was closed after the deadly attack, has now reopened. However, much of the building has since been allocated to homeless families, meaning that only 200 of the 1,200 seats remain.

Sister Veronica says some of the former pupils, who went on to pursue successful careers, return to inquire about their teachers, without knowing the full story of what happened.

"When I tell them, they shed tears," says the Augustinian nun, whose order lost two of its members in October 1994, killed in the nearby Bab El Oued neighbourhood.

Times have changed, and Sister Veronica says she now feels "very welcome" in Algeria.

"If I didn't have friends, if I didn't trust people, I wouldn't have stayed."

-- Monks' deaths unresolved --

Archbishop Bader, a Jordanian, insists that the Catholic community is "not restricted" or discriminated against today in Algeria, whose population is 99 percent Sunni Muslim.

The number of Christians in Algeria is officially estimated at around 10,000, but the real figure is probably much higher, given the thousands of expatriate workers from the Philippines and China, as well as students from sub-Saharan Africa.

The archbishop says he recently celebrated mass with 600 Filipino workers, after getting the "approval" of the local authorities.

As another sign of the ties linking Catholics in Algeria and the Muslim population, he mentions the presence of 20 imams last week at the ceremony to mark the restoration of the Basilica of St Augustine in Annaba.

This was followed by intercommunal prayers to strengthen ties between Muslims and Christians.

Separately, the church in Algeria has distanced itself from a sensitive lawsuit filed in France by the families of the Tibehirine monks, relating to the circumstances in which they died in 1996 after their abduction by Islamist insurgents.

"There is a case that has been brought by some of the families. We are following it, but the church will not take part in it," said Ghaleb.

Having examined the theory that the Armed Islamic Group killed the seven monks, French judge Marc Trevidic is now investigating the possibility that they were accidentally slain by the Algerian army, as claimed by a France's military attache in Algiers at the time.

The judge visited Algeria in November and plans to return when the heads of the decapitated monks are to be exhumed, to make progress with an investigation that has stalled for more than a decade. But no date has been fixed.


 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Sep 19 2014 - Iran slammed for Syria-Iraq chaosArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Leaders from various Arab countries participating in a conference entitled 'Arabian Gulf and Regional Challenges which concluded here on Wednesday urged nations to unify to help ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Doha doesn't back extremists: EmirArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) BERLIN: Qatar's emir said in Germany on Wednesday that his state does not back 'terrorist organizations' and Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had no reason to doubt him.The ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Imaginative septuagenarian boats vehicle to tiny islandArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) A 70-year-old man sailed across an 8-km span of sea with a truck on board two boats that were tied together.Ali Suhail took his Toyota Hilux from the Farasan Island to Qimah ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Forced evacuations as Philippine volcano spews lavaArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) LEGAZPI Philippines: Lava cascaded down the Philippines' most active volcano on Wednesday as authorities rushed to evacuate thousands ahead of a possible deadly eruption.Mostly ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Blind Saudi sculptor to exhibit work in UKArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) A student with a visual disability has been selected to exhibit her work at an international event in the United Kingdom.Zahra Al-Dhamen a Saudi media student at King Saud ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Saudi- Water levels rise due to heavy rain in AsirArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Heavy rainfall in the Asir region Tuesday evening covered a number of towns and population centers.The Civil Defense Department in Asir sent safety patrols to several locations ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Saudi- Big Madinah push for SMEsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman Monday launched a massive program to boost small and medium enterprises (SME) in the region as part of a plan to boost the national ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Saudi- Cop killer duo handed deathArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) A court sentenced two terror suspects to death on Tuesday for jointly murdering a policeman and injuring 12 others in an armed confrontation with security men at the residential ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Changing Pakistan: Tardy MPs thrown off jetArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) ISLAMABAD: Angry Pakistani passengers have forced two lawmakers off a plane for delaying its departure by almost two hours. A video covering the drama was posted online.Irate ...

 Sep 19 2014 - Saudi- Technology forum begins at KACSTArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) The 3rd Advanced Technologies Forum 2014 kicked off on Tuesday at the King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

IPO News
Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

US Markets Details

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Investment Game
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary

My MENAFN
Portfolio Tracker

Voting

Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2000 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help