The Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) has reaffirmed its desire to regain control of several former churches used today for other purposes, World Watch Monitor reports. Christians are the distinct minority in Algeria, representing less than 1 percent of Algeria's 38 million inhabitants, and often face restrictions when seeking to build new churches. The presence of Protestant Christians in Algeria dates back to the French colonial era, when a number of churches were built. However, after the country gained independence in 1962, many of these buildings were given to other purposes. One example is the temple of Mostaganem in the northwest of the country, which became a clinic in 1976. In the north-eastern city of Béjaïa, a temple once belonging to the Evangelical Reformed Church (now the EPA), was given by local authorities to the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) after the church's pastor fell seriously ill and returned to France. Now, Protestants in cities like Béjaïa and Mostaganem are petitioning for their old churches to be returned.