Introduction / History Algerian Arab-Berbers make up a large percentage of the people living in the northwest African nation of Algeria. In the second half of the 20th century Algerians began leaving the relative poverty and turmoil of their homeland to seek better economic opportunities and freedom in the West including Sweden. At the present time roughly one half of the Algerian Arabs in Sweden were born in Algeria and the other half were born in Sweden.
What are their lives like? Sweden has a developed economy and one of the highest living standards of the world. Health care and university education is funded by the government. The main sources of income are timber, iron ore, automobiles, hydropower, arms sales, and telecommunications. Algerian Arabs frequently take low paying jobs that the Swedish citizens distain such as jobs in sanitation, construction, restaurants, hotels, and as drivers. As the Algerian population benefits from Sweden’s free educational system, Arabs are gaining jobs which require more skills. A few now own the restaurants and hotels where they work. Upon arrival in Sweden, the Algerians must find a job, find to place to live, learn the Swedish language, and put their children in schools. Becoming fluent in Swedish and becoming accustomed to the new Western culture may take years. The Swedish Algerian people face a huge challenge in fitting into a modern European society and at the same time, retaining their Algerian culture, religion and language. They speak their own language at home and Swedish on the job and with their neighbors. In traditional Arab families, the parents chose the spouse of their children. This pattern of behavior will change as Algerian young people are educated in Swedish schools and culture. Swedish citizens normally have fewer children than the Muslims coming into the country. In Algerian culture the more sons a father and mother have the more they are blessed by Allah.
What are their beliefs? The vast majority of Algerian Arabs living in Sweden are Sunni Muslims. Muslim Algerian Arabs try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain paradise upon death. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. Muslims attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. For many younger Algerian Arabs their Islam has become more cultural than religious. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. Many Algerians also celebrate the Christian holidays of Sweden. Only tiny fraction of Algerian Arabs claims to be followers of Jesus Christ.
What are their needs? The Algerian living in Sweden must come to understand that neither Islam nor material wealth will gain them the joy and peace of mind they seek. Jesus or Isa is much more than a prophet as He is described in the Koran. Only Jesus can forgive their sins and give them eternal life. Newly arrived Algerians need help in learning Swedish, finding housing and getting their children in schools.
Prayer Points * Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of Algerian Arabs towards Christ and His followers. * Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to churches and mission agencies focusing on the Algerians in Sweden. * Ask the Lord to send additional long-term laborers to live among the Algerians in Sweden and share the love of Christ with them. * Pray for God to raise up Disciple Making Movement among the Algerian Arabs in Sweden in this decade.