Algeria: Christian Faces Five Years In Prison For Sharing Faith With Muslim
Matthew 5:11-12a, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great [is] your reward in heaven …”
By Jeremy Reynalds, ASSIST News Service – “ISTANBUL (ANS) — Accusers who say an Algerian Christian insulted Islam provided no evidence to a judge hearing the Christian’s appeal of his original sentence.
According to a story by Open Doors News, Karim Siaghi, a Christian convert, was sentenced in May 2011 to five years in prison and fined 200,000 Algerian Dinars, or about U.S. $2,500, even though prosecutors had brought no evidence or witnesses before the court.
More than a year later, in mid-November, Siaghi’s appeal hearing was held in the coastal city of Oran, in the northwest of Algeria. It was the first time he had faced his accuser in court.
Open Doors News said authorities arrested Siaghi in April 2011 after he allegedly gave a CD about Christianity to a Muslim. Siaghi had gone to a phone store to buy airtime minutes for his cell phone, and the clerk there initiated a conversation about religion.
Unhappy with Siaghi’s non-Muslim answers, the clerk tried to force him to worship the Prophet and to recite the Muslim shahada, ‘There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet.’
When Siaghi refused and said he was a Christian, Open Doors News said the clerk filed a complaint that the convert had belittled the Prophet. Lacking additional witnesses, charges were brought against him.
Open Doors News said the clerk had allegedly seen Siaghi give a CD to someone, but never appeared in court to testify about that. Siaghi’s lawyer said there was no evidence of the charges.
Local Algerians as well as international observers were dismayed when the judge handed down the sentence. The prosecutor had reportedly sought a two-year sentence and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars, or about U.S. $690.
Open Doors News said experts on Algeria’s treatment of Christians say that Algerian courts customarily have preferred to delay deciding in favor of Christians, so as not to aggravate local Muslim feelings. They say judges also have been slow to pronounce final verdicts in order to keep from provoking international criticism over religious freedom.” Read more.
Flashback: Algeria Demands UN To Impose Limits On Freedom Of Speech And Expression‚ Protect Islam And Mohammed – “Algeria demanded new efforts yesterday to limit freedom of expression to prevent denigrating attacks on Islam, appealing to the United Nations to take a lead as nations engaged in new debate on the tensions between free speech and religious tolerance. In an address to the General Assembly, Algeria’s foreign minister Mourad Medelci called for global action … his call follows similar demands at the General Assembly from scores of leaders in the Muslim world who want new laws to ban insults against Islam.” Read more.