Monday, May 30, 2011

Algerian Christian given 5-year prison sentence for blasphemy

Siagh Krimo and family
On May 7, we shared that two Algerian Christians were scheduled to appear in court on charges of proselytizing and blasphemy. On May 25, one of those men was sentenced to five years imprisonment, reported International Christian Concern.

The verdict came days after authorities forced the permanent closure of seven Protestant churches in Algeria’s Bejaia province.

Siagh Krimo was charged by the Criminal Court of the Djamel District in Oran, who based their decision on Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code which criminalizes 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.”

Krimo has 10 days to appeal the sentence.

Krimo, who is married with a 9-month-old child, was arrested on April 14, along Sofiane, after sharing his Christian faith with a neighbour. Sofiane was released soon after the arrest, while Krimo was detained for three days. Krimo was known to hold weekly prayer services at his home, which Algerian Christians suspect were being closely monitored by the police.

Krimo was sentenced in spite of the prosecutor’s inability to produce the neighbour who accused Krimo of proselytizing and making defamatory statements against Mohammad.

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Algerian Christians have been under attack in recent weeks as laws have been increasingly enforced to discriminate against them. Earlier this week, seven churches in Bejaia were ordered to close. Now, an Algerian Christian is on the verge of being unjustly imprisoned for accusations of criticizing Islam. While Algeria professes that it upholds religious freedom, it also embraces a blasphemy law that, by its very nature, can be used to prosecute anyone who does not adhere to the religion of Islam. We urge Algeria to acquit Siagh of all charges and repeal Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code.”

What You Can Do
  1. Pray for Siagh Krimo. Pray he would remain strong in Jesus while he faces time behind bars. Pray he will be a witness to those around him in prison. Pray for Algerian authorities.
  2. Write to the Algerian embassy in Canada to express your concern.
His Excellency Smail Benamara
Ambassador
Embassy of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
500 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N2
Canada

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