Two Christians sentenced to prison and heavily fined in Algeria
A court in Algeria has convicted and sentenced in absentia a pastor and another Christian to two years in prison and a heavy fine, accusing them of “shaking the faith” of Muslims with Christian literature at their bookstore, sources said.
Pastor Rachid Seighir and Nouh Hamimi learned by a written notification slipped under the door of their church building in Oran, a coastal city west of Algiers, that they had been sentenced to prison and fined 500,000 Algerian dinars (US$3,745).
The pastor was the manager of the now-closed bookstore, where Hamimi worked as a salesman. The judgment reads that they are condemned for “distributing publications or any other propaganda undermining the faith of a Muslim.”
Pastor Seighir of Oratoire Church in Oran said the conviction was mere retaliation in a conflict over the bookstore going back to 2008 when he was convicted of the same charges and acquitted on appeal. The governor of Oran ordered the bookshop closed in 2017. Still, in April 2018, a court ruled the closure order was invalid due to procedural problems – though authorities continued to keep the bookshop closed, he said.
Islam is the state religion in the ninety-nine per cent Muslim country. Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at fifty thousand but others affirm it could be twice this high.