The situation in Algeria has calmed down, but the crisis in Tunisia has worsened. Demonstrations continue despite the concessions of president Ben Ali. After having promised 300,000 new jobs, dismissed the minister of the internal affairs, changed the head of the army and ordered the release of the demonstrators who had been arrested, on Thursday the head of state announced the end of gun fire on civilians, the end of Internet censure and his own departure from power in 2014. But the demonstrators hostile to president Ben Ali continue in the centre of Tunis which has been affected by violence for several days following on from other cities in the country.
Officially 25 people have lost their lives, but human rights organisations say that there have been at least three times that amount, including 8 deaths in the suburbs of Tunis.
5 people lost their lives in recent violence in Algeria.
Poverty, corruption and injustice have pushed thousands of people in Tunisia and Algeria to rioting in the streets these last weeks. The instability of these nations is near its limit, severe clashes between rioters and police show the dimming hope the young people feel. Anger and desolation leave no hope for people. Society is fragmented, Islam tries to take advantage of this situation hoping to bring about a revolution and to establish Sharia law.
The social and economic situations in Tunisia, Algeria and even Morocco are disastrous and pushing young people to escape to Europe and North America; by any means, they want to reach the other side of the ocean. Some of them say: "we thirst for freedom, and we want to break free even if we must offer our bodies to the fish rather than to the land that cursed us."
People are open to new ideas, there is physical and spiritual hunger. The Gospel remains a unique message bringing hope to people's hearts, the Gospel has indeed already transformed the lives of thousands. Despite all the challenges the church is the only place where all peoples can express joy and peace.
Two decades ago no one would have predicted that today the Church would be visible in North Africa. The Church in North Africa has moved from isolated cases of conversion into units of conversions: families, young, old, men and women all together confess Christ publicly and solemnly. Christians used to worship in hiding and in small groups (and most groups outside of Algeria still do), but now Churches are wide spread and many come together to worship in public buildings and speak boldly of their faith. The media, newspapers and the public, have accused Christians of being zionists, traitors and infidels. They were accused of being bribed, “each one was given 50 euros in order to convert to the Christian faith,” others accused Christians of having received visas for travel to Europe or to the USA.
In the last couple of years the governments of North African countries have gone one step further. In Algeria the government passed a law against Christians, and since 2007 we have seen action being taken against them. Accused of outrageous evangelism, several Christians were prosecuted for their faith.
Morocco which until last year showed cooperation with and respect for other religions, has expelled more than 120 Christian workers in 2010 and is hassling and oppressing National Christians.
Tunisia may seem less impacted by the gospel but Tunisia has also seen considerable growth, not just in Tunis but also in other cities like Sfax, Soussa, Gabes, Kasrine, Kairawan. Sofiane.
Libya remains the country with the least converts. Libyans are gripped with fear of secret police. The few believers who are known, do not hold any meetings. 4 of them were arrested and jailed last year, some other workers were expelled.
Radical Islam is also gaining ground in, and becoming a threat to these nations. The centre of activity of these Muslim activists has shifted to the south, bringing the same fear to Mauritania, Mali and Niger. AQIM is the acronym for Al Qaida in North Africa which is bringing instability to the area. This is illustrated by recent kidnappings of French citizens in September 2010 and again in Januray 2011.
Muslim clerics and other radical Muslims wish to deal with Christians one way or another. One prosecutor said to a Christian "this is a Muslim country! If you are a Christian you should leave this country."
So we see how the countries of North Africa are in the midst of a severe crisis, this crisis will either continue and lead to a civil war or pause for a moment only to break out again in the not too distant future. But if it breaks out again it will probably have a larger scale and Libya will not be spared.