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Algeria: Two Christians Sentenced to Prison and Heavy Fine

Rachid Seighir and Nouh Hamimi were sentenced for “shaking the faith” of Muslims with Christian literature. This story illustrates the insecurity and fear with which many non-Christian governing authorities the world over regard Christianity. They are aware of how our Lord Jesus Christ can transform souls, and they work hard to prevent the message of the Holy Gospel from reaching their people.

The modern nation of Algeria was once a renowned center of Orthodox Christianity. The holy martyr St. Cyprian of Carthage, Blessed Augustine of Hippo, and many other saints hailed from North Africa. But in 647, the first Arab invaders arrived, and the Islamization of the area began. Ultimately, Christianity was entirely wiped out in North Africa.

Today Christianity, albeit not yet Holy Orthodoxy, is returning to North Africa. Yet as we see in so many areas, this article shows yet again that the persecution of Christians is mandated by the government and legal authorities. Please keep the Christians of Algeria who are enduring these church closures in your prayers, and pray also to our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ for the revival of Holy Orthodoxy in this venerable land.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Algeria, see here.

“Two Christians Sentenced to Prison and Heavy Fine in Algeria,” Morning Star News, March 4, 2021:

TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria (Morning Star News) – 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 268 miles 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, but 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….

The church on May 26, 2019 won another legal fight to unseal the bookstore, but the governor again refused to obey the order, and it remained closed, he said.

“Continuing our fight, we asked the administrative court to intervene,” Pastor Seighir said. “Here too we were successful, and the judgment arrived on October 13, 2019 ordering the removal of the seals and the reopening of the bookstore, with financial compensation of 500,000 dinars [US$3,745]. Unfortunately, the wali did not comply with the order of justice, and the bookstore remained closed. Four years of closure.”…

Algeria’s 2006 law regulating non-Muslim worship, known as Law 03/06, criminalizes the publishing or distributing of any materials “which aim to undermine the faith of a Muslim.” Punishment can range from two to five years in prison and fines of 500,000 to 1 million Algerian dinars (US$3,745 to US$7,490).

Islam is the state religion in the 99-percent Muslim country. Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number….

Algeria ranked 24th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, up from 42nd place in 2018.

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