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Executive Summary

The constitution provides for freedom of conscience and, after an amendment enacted in February, for freedom of worship. The constitution declares Islam to be the state religion and prohibits state institutions from behaving in a manner incompatible with Islam. The law grants all individuals the right to practice their religion as long as they respect public order and regulations. Offending or insulting any religion is a criminal offense. Proselytizing of Muslims by non-Muslims is a crime. Police arrested Ahmadi Muslims for conducting unauthorized religious activities, such as holding prayers and printing religious books. A court sentenced a Christian convert accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad to three years in prison. In April an appeals court ordered the release of a journalist sentenced in 2015 to three years in prison for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. The government continued to regulate the importation of religious materials. Two Christian organizations said the government delayed four months in authorizing their requests to import Bibles, but viewed the waiting period as an improvement in the delays experienced in past years. Senior government officials issued statements opposing calls by extremist groups for violence in the name of Islam. They also criticized the spread of “extremist” Salafism, Wahhabism, Shia Islam, Ahmadi Islam, and the Bahai Faith. Christians reported continuing delays in obtaining visas for foreign religious workers.

Jund al-Khilafa, a terrorist group affiliated with ISIS, took credit for the October 28 killing of a police officer in Constantine. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, another terrorist group, took credit for a March 18 attack on a gas plant in Krechba.

There were reports of family members abusing Muslims who converted to or expressed an interest in Christianity. Practitioners of religions other than Sunni Islam, including Christians and Jews, reported they had experienced threats and intolerance and often kept a low profile as a result. In January youth in Biskra distributed leaflets describing Shia Islam as “invading” the country. A private television channel aired interviews with a professor, an imam, and a scholar of Islam about what they described as the dangers of the Ahmadi faith. There were reports of employment discrimination against non-Muslims and one incident of attempted vandalism against a church.

The U.S. Ambassador encouraged the government to promote religious tolerance. Embassy officers in meetings and programs with religious leaders from both majority and minority religious groups, as well as with members of the public, focused on pluralism and religious moderation. The Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor met with several officials from the Ministry of Religious Affairs to stress the importance of religious tolerance and freedom of worship. The embassy sponsored the visit of a Muslim writer and scholar from the United States to engage youth in discussions of religious freedom and tolerance.

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Abuses by Foreign Forces and Nonstate Actors

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization, continued to operate in the country, stating the government was an “apostate regime.” The group claimed credit for a March 18 attack on a gas plant in Krechba. The Jund al-Khilafa group, which has sworn allegiance to ISIS and also is a U.S. government-designated terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for killing a police officer in the city of Constantine in October and continued to call for violence against those who disagreed with its interpretation of Islam.

International Religious Freedom Reports
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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future