Algerian Pastor Sentenced to a Fine and Suspended Prison Sentence

ICC Note: An Algerian pastor charged under a law prohibiting evangelism has been ordered a three month suspended prison sentence and to pay a fine of 100,000 dinars (USD 868). This follows a significant increase of cases where authorities have harassed churches and Christians within the last three months. The pastor intends to appeal his sentence.

03/14/2018 Algeria (Morning Star News) – In the latest of a rash of persecution incidents in Algeria, a judge on Thursday (March 8) sentenced a pastor to a fine and a suspended prison sentence under a law that prohibits causing Muslims to doubt their religion, sources said.

In Frenda, Tiaret Province, pastor Nordine B. was ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 dinars (US$868) and received a three-month suspended prison sentence, the pastor confirmed to Morning Star News in an email.

Prosecutors had sought a six-month prison sentence and a fine of 50,000 dinars (US$434), another Algerian pastor confirmed to Morning Star News in an email. His name is withheld for security reasons.

“The pastor of the church of Tiaret was convicted of proselytism,” the pastor said. “He will appeal, so the verdict is not final.”

Algerian News outlet Algerie Part last week reported a Christian leader as saying the charge against Pastor Nordine was ridiculous, as the only evidence police presented was the fact that he was carrying Christian books.

The charge was based on Algeria’s controversial Law 03/2006, commonly known as Law 06/03, according to Algerie Part. The prosecutor’s requested prison sentence and fine, like the judge’s actual prison sentence and fine, was less than that stipulated by the 2006 law, which calls for a prison term of two to five years and a fine of 500,000 to 1 million dinars (US$4,343 to US$8,687) for anyone who “incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or using for this purpose the institutions of education, health, social, cultural, or educational institutions, or other establishment, or financial advantage; or makes, stores or distributes printed documents or films or other audiovisual medium or means intended to undermine the faith of a Muslim.”

Christian leaders say the charge was unconstitutional, citing the Algerian constitution’s Article 42, which guarantees freedom of belief, opinion and worship.

“The situation for Christians here is very critical,” the unnamed pastor in Algeria told Morning Star News by email. “We ask, why this relentlessness of the authorities on us?”

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org

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