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    » 12/13/2010, 00.00

    ISLAM – ALGERIA

    Four Algerian Christians convicted for setting up a place of worship without a permit



    A Protestant clergyman and three of his parishioners were convicted on the basis of a controversial 2006 law that requires a permit to set up a place of worship. This is the first time the law is enforced; some believe it violates Algeria’s constitution.

    Algiers (AsiaNews) – Four Algerian Muslim converts to Christians were convicted for setting up an illegal place of worship in Kabylia, a region in the eastern part of the country. This is the first conviction of its kind in Algeria. Although it was suspended, the sentence ranges from two to three months in prison.

    Three of the men—Abdenour Raid, Nacer Mokrani and Idir Haoudj—got two months. The fourth man, Rev Mahmoud Yahou, was sentenced to three months in jail and a 1,000-dinar fine (US$ 125) for illegally sheltering a foreigner.

    The trial was held in Larbaa Nath Irathen, in Tizi Ouzou province. The Prosecutor had asked for a year for each of the accused, who range between 35 and 45 in age.

    In Algeria, a 2006 law requires that anyone who wants to set up a place of worship, whether for Muslims or non-Muslims, must obtain a permit, indicating the name of the place of worship as well as that of the preacher.

    The four men were convicted of opening a Protestant church without a proper licence issued by the authority. However, Rev Yahou told French daily La Croix on 10 December that the accusation is absurd. “I have being welcoming foreign guests since 2003. They have all entered Algeria with a visa because I signed the accommodation certificate for them”.

    According to some observers, this trial against Algeria’s Christian minority reflects a crackdown undertaken by Algerian government since February 2006 against non-Muslim religions. Since the 1990s, the country has been targeted by Islamic extremists.

    Under the 2006 law, places of worship need a permit. “Undermining” Muslims’ faith and “inciting” them to convert are crimes (although no definition of them is given).

    According to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (in power since 1999 and now on his third mandate), the 2006 law respects the Algerian constitution. Many observers disagree since it creates a grey area that allows the government and the police to move against religious minorities, despite the constitutional protection of religious freedom.

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    See also

    09/03/2011 ISLAM – ALGERIA
    Muslim lawyer defends women’s rights
    Based on Islamic law and tribal traditions, Algerian law discriminates against women in terms of marriage, children’s custody and education, divorce and more. Here is an in-depth analysis by an expert.

    29/07/2005 VATICAN – IRAQ
    Algerian diplomats killed in Iraq were "builders of peace", says Holy See


    19/03/2009 UZBEKISTAN
    Uzbek Christians face persecution and discrimination even after death
    The police and town authorities oppose a funeral for a man because his wife and son are Christian. Later they allow it, but in practically concealed form. Christians sentenced to prison solely because they gather together and pray. Persecution expanded against those who do not adhere to the country's official religion, Islam.

    10/03/2007 UZBEKISTAN
    A Protestant Pastor confined for 4 years “for his sermons”
    That’s the penalty inflicted on pastor Shestakov, detained since January; according to local sources he is “guilty” of having carried out many conversions. Police film and interrogate anyone who attends Church.

    28/10/2006 KAZAKHSTAN
    Changes to law on religious freedom planned

    The authorities have said the amendments will not make things worse but many Protestant groups fear further restrictions on their activities. Small communities are often hassled, fined or forced to wait for a long time to get compulsory registration.





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