Another NGO condemns Algeria for continued detention of Christian convert
Yesterday, Amnesty International, a renowned, secular human rights watchdog group, condemned the sentence of Foudhil Bahloul, an Algerian Christian convert convicted under laws regulating non-Muslim worship. This condemnation of the Algerian government comes at a time when religious freedom continues to deteriorate in the north African country, especially at the expense of the Algerian Christian community.
Algerian authorities arrested Bahloul on April 17 after a raid on his house, charging him with “illegal donations” and “collecting donations or accepting gifts without a license from the authorized departments.” Bahoul also faces additional charges under a 2006 Ordinance regulating non-Muslim worship, specifically targeting him as a Christian for distributing bibles.
Amnesty International officials called the law, and Bahloul’s conviction, discriminatory and urged for his release. “Algerian authorities must immediately quash Foudhil Bahloul’s conviction and drop all charges against him,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“This discriminatory law is being used as a weapon to repress those who do not follow Islam in an assault against their fundamental freedoms. Instead of targeting non-Islamic believers, Algeria authorities must work on protecting the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief – which includes the freedom to manifest that belief.”
The government has arrested several members of minority religious communities under its blasphemy law, a law whose enforcement the U.S. House of Representatives and the UN Human Rights Committee have both recognized as a human rights violation. Additionally, the Algerian government continues to prevent Protestant churches throughout the country from holding worship services and often ignores requests for information and attempts to have them reopen.