Christians convicted in Algeria

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Converts to Christianity, commonly from Islam, must maintain their new faith in a “discreet” manner.

Newsdesk (30/06/2021 4:55 PM, Gaudium Press) Recent decisions condemning Christians and the closing of places of worship in Algeria have prompted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to report that “the country is heading in the wrong direction.” The U.S. government established this Commission as a bipartisan, independent entity making recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress on the issue of religious freedom abroad.

Cases

Two cases have particularly attracted the attention of the Commission.

In March, Hamid Soudad, a 42-year-old father of four, was sentenced to 5 years in prison by a court in Oran for reposting a caricature of Mohammed on his Facebook page.

On June 6, a Protestant pastor and bookstore owner named Richid Mohamed Seighir, was convicted by another court also in Oran for “printing, storing or distributing materials that may ‘shake’ the faith of a Muslim.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also highlights the recent order from an Oran administrative court ordering the sealing of three Christian places of worship. Last year, they were closed by order of the Central Government.

Special watch list

U.S. State Department asked to put Algeria on ‘special watch list.’

Frederick A. Davie, a member of the U.S. Commission, called the court decisions “blatant attempts denying Algerian Christians their right to freedom of religion and belief.”

“We encourage U.S. government officials to attend the appeals for these rulings to demonstrate our firm commitment to religious freedom for Christians and all religious minorities in Algeria,” he said. He also suggested that the U.S. State Department place Algeria on its “special watch list” for “engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.”

Conversely, according to Open Doors USA, the situation in Algeria has improved in terms of religious freedom due to a “substantial reduction in incidents of violence against Christians.”

Archbishop Paul Desfarges of Algiers attributes this decline to the fact that “the new disciples live their faith discreetly and with respect for Islam. And a path of acceptance is gradually being made in Algeria.”

This discretion, however, is foremost due to the severe threats pending against conversions to Christianity.

With information from CNA.

 

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