Algerian Christians Receive Prison Sentences In Absentia

03/11/2021 Algeria (International Christian Concern) –  Two Christians received two-year prison sentences and heavy fines for “proselytizing” in response to incidents that took place in 2008 and 2017. Pastor Rachid Seighir and one of his congregants, Nouh Hamimi, learned of their punishments via a written notification posted to their church building in Oran.

In September 2017, a bookstore owned by Pastor Rachid, where Hamimi worked as a salesman, was raided by Oran authorities. After finding Christian books, printing machines, and Bibles, the governor closed the bookstore. In 2018 and in 2019, the church won legal cases that ordered the reopening of the bookstore. However, the governor refused to obey the court ruling. The bookstore has remained closed since the original incident.

In October 2019, after two failed court orders, the church appealed to an administrative court which ruled in their favor. The ruling included financial compensation of $3,745 USD. Instead, Pastor Rachid and Hamimi were convicted in absentia on February 27. Both are appealing their convictions.

Two other Christians have been accused of blasphemy since December 2020. Protestant churches in Algeria remain closed after COVID-19 regulations were lifted for other places of worship. Churches also remain closed from the 2018-2019 mass church closures, most of which were part of the Evangelical Protestant Association (EPA).

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