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Five-year jail term for Algerian Christi...

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Five-year jail term for Algerian Christian who shared faith with Muslim

Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Algeria

An Algerian Christian has been sentenced to five years in jail after sharing his faith with a Muslim neighbour.

Siagh Krimo, who is married with a nine-month-old baby, was arrested on 14 April along with another Christian. He was accused of blasphemy after sharing his faith with and giving a Christian CD to his Muslim neighbour; the other Christian was released.

Algeria_church_4X3.jpg
Algerian authorities are clamping down
on Christians and churches

At Krimo’s trial, held on 4 May, the prosecutor failed to produce the neighbour who had accused him of proselytizing and making defamatory statements against Muhammad, or any other witness or evidence. Despite this, Krimo was sentenced on 25 May to five years in jail and was fined 20,000 Algerian Dinars (£170, US$280, €194, AU$263, NZ$344). He is currently on bail and has ten days to appeal.

The court based its decision on an article of the Algerian Penal Code that criminalises acts that “insult the prophet and any of the messengers of God, or denigrate the creed and precepts of Islam, whether by writing, drawing, declaration, or any other means”.

Some Algerian Christians believe that the court came under pressure from higher authorities in the government. A representative of the Algerian Protestant Churches Association (EPA) said,

The judge would have normally acquitted Krimo of all charges, but I think he received an order from his superiors to strike hard.

Krimo was known to hold weekly prayer services at his home; Algerian Christians suspect these were being closely monitored by the police.

Krimo’s harsh sentence comes just days after the head of EPA received a notice from a High Police Commissioner informing him that a decision had been made to close down all Christian places of worship throughout the country that are not designated for religious purposes. One Christian leader said Krimo’s conviction and the church closure order were part of “a campaign against the Christian faith” in Algeria.

The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-RLC) has linked the recent clampdown on Christians in Algeria to the lifting of the 19-year-old state of emergency following public protests inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.  The WEA-RLC said it “suspects that the crackdown on Christians and their organisations is an attempt to prevent the church from growing in the absence of restrictions that were supposed to follow the lifting of the state of emergency on 24 February”.

The constitution of Algeria protects the religious freedom of non-Muslims, but it also states that Islam is the state religion and prohibits behaviour incompatible with Islamic morality. Encouraging a Muslim to convert to Christianity or possessing materials likely to “shake the faith of a Muslim” are punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

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  • “Jesus Christ performed tremendous miracles in all our lives through this Shalom Camp.” A pastor spoke of how God had worked through a Barnabas-sponsored weekend Bible camp for persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka. The camp was attended by believers from five different churches that had been the target of threats or attacks by Buddhist or Hindu extremists. The participants heard teaching on the Biblical basis for persecution and took part in group discussions; they came away refreshed and encouraged, and for many the camp was a time of great spiritual renewal. Give thanks to the Lord for the peace He has brought to these persecuted believers, and ask that the weekend will continue to bear much fruit in their lives. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 11 hours ago

  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Condemned Christian mother Aasia Bibi’s final appeal hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow (14 April) having been deferred twice. She was sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010 having been falsely accused of insulting Muhammad following an argument with Muslim co-workers. Aasia has been languishing in jail since the accusation was made in June 2009. Pray that her appeal will finally go ahead and that the judges will have the courage to acquit and release Aasia; there are concerns that they may give in to pressure from hardline Islamists who have been calling for her execution. Pray that Aasia, her husband and children will know the Lord’s peace as they await the verdict. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sun, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Indians have started going to the polls this week in a general election that is taking place in phases until 12 May. The ruling, secular Congress party is expected to be defeated by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This would be an ominous outcome for the country’s Christian minority. The BJP has given support to extremist groups that attack Christians; states under the party’s rule have generally experienced a rise in anti-Christian violence. It has introduced anti-conversion laws on a state level, and has pledged to introduce national legislation to curb "missionary" activity and end proselytising if elected nationally. Pray for wisdom for Indians as they vote and that the outcome will result in a just government that upholds the rights and freedoms of all citizens. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Apr 2014 00:00

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