Algeria limits non-Muslim freedoms

Hard on the heels of the case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan sentenced to death for converting to Christianity, comes worrying news from Algeria on new restrictions introduced on the practice of Christianity and Judaism. (via Primo-Europe).

By an overwhelming majority the second chamber of the Algerian Parliament recently passed a law whereby anyone attempting to ‘incite, coerce or attempts to seduce Muslims to convert’ could be sentenced to prison terms of up to five years and fines of up to 1 million dinars (10,000 Euros). Printed or audio-visual material ‘aimed at destroying the Muslim faith’ are outlawed. The exercise of non-Muslim religions outside certain authorised buildings is banned.

The new law does not even recognise atheism and agnosticism, and follows hard on another restricting the teaching of French and languages other than Arabic in schools.

President Bouteflika claims that the new law aims to ‘perpetuate the tradition of coexistence and mutual respect between the religions of the Peoples of the Book as well as to protect Islam’.

Worried Christians have pointed out unofficial meetings even in official buildings, declarations in sermons and quoting from the Bible could well earn them up to 10 years in prison. All this in the birthplace of St Augustine. Christianity and Judaism predated Islam in North Africa by at least 600 years.

Algeria is a signatory to the International Charter on Human Rights.

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