Algeria: Update on Christians acquitted of charges

M J

Christians in Algeria ask for prayer for five Christians recently acquitted of proselytism and blasphemy charges.

On 26 December 2018, MEC reported that four Christians from Muslim backgrounds, including three from the same family, were acquitted of proselytism charges in a hearing on 25 December. They had been charged with “Inciting a Muslim to change his religion,” an offence under Ordinance 3-6 of 2006, punishable with a prison term of two to five years and a fine of 500,000 to 1 million Algerian Dinars (approx. US$4,350 to US$8,700). The prosecutor has now appealed the acquittal verdict and has requested another hearing on 20 January.

In a second case, another Algerian Christian, also from a Muslim background, was acquitted of blasphemy charges in a court hearing on 30 December 2018. This Christian, a farmer from Ain-Defla Province, became a Christian in 2013. When his wife’s family discovered his faith decision, they insulted, harassed and threatened him, forcing him to move with his wife and their two young daughters to another province where he found work as a labourer. In late 2017 his in-laws discovered their whereabouts and resumed their threats. They persuaded his wife to accuse him of insulting Islam and of threatening her, and to file for divorce. Their house was searched by police and he was briefly detained and then charged with blasphemy. The divorce was granted (under applicable Islamic personal status law, Muslim women cannot be married to non-Muslims) and the wife was granted custody of their daughters (‘Muslim’ children cannot be raised by non-Muslims). His former in-laws have occasionally denied access to his daughters, and his attempts to challenge this have not been taken seriously by the police.

Although Algerian Christians rejoice that this brother was acquitted of the blasphemy charges, they note the ongoing impact of the annulment of his marriage and the loss of his employment. It is not uncommon for North African Christian believers from Muslim backgrounds to face such challenges.

Algerian Christians ask us to join them in prayer;
a. that these five Christians will know the Lord’s peace, wisdom and guidance in the face of ongoing pressures
b. for the brother from Ain-Defla to be given special strength to face the separation from his family, and to find another job soon.
c. that other four Christians’ acquittal will not be overturned on appeal
d. there would be just laws and greater societal tolerance towards Christians in Algeria
e. those responsible for the intimidation of Christians would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus

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