Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Algerian Christians Face 3 Years in Prison for "Blasphemy"

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 21, 2008, an Algerian court held a hearing on the case of three Christians who face three years of prison and a fine of 500 euros. The Court held the hearing in Ain Turk, a town 267 miles away from Algiers, the capital of Algeria. The three Christians are Youssef Ourahmane, Rachid Seghir and Hamid Ramdani. The public prosecutor accused them of "insulting Islam, its prophet and threatening the former professing Christian that complained against them."Earlier, a lower court agreed with the prosecutor and handed down a 3 year prison sentence and 500 euro fine. The defendants were not present at the time of the decision. The defendants then appealed the decision of the lower court on July 15, 2008. The appeal court postponed the hearing until October 21, 2008. The case against the three Christians was brought by the public prosecutor with the help of Mr. Shamouma Al-Aid. Mr. Al-Aid "converted" from Islam to Christianity for a period time during which he also attended a Bible school. According to Compass Direct News, Mr. Al-Aid continued to maintain relations with radical Muslims while attending churches and the Bible school. Later he "reconverted" to Islam and alleged that the three Christians were blaspheming Islam and its prophet Mohammed. He also alleged that the Christians were threatening him for "reconverting" to Islam. In a positive development, a lawyer who represented the Algerian Ministry of Religious Affairs said that the rights of Algerian religious minorities should be respected.The Judge, after hearing the arguments of the parties, scheduled to decide the case on October 29, 2008. ICC's Regional Manger for Africa, Jonathan Racho, stated, "As a member of the international community, the Algerian government has the obligation to respect the freedom of religion for its Christian minorities. It is time for Algerian officials to carry out their obligations by ceasing to interfere with freedom of worship of the country's Christian minorities."ICC calls upon Christians to pray for their Algerian brothers and sisters who are going through persecution. Please pray that the three Christians in this case will be cleared of the false accusation made against them. Please contact ICC for more information on how to help Christians in Algeria.
As in the days of Noah...

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