Two missionaries get suspended jail terms in Algeria

The state-appointed Higher Islamic Council, which regulates religious practice, says Protestant evangelicals are secretly trying to divide Algerians to colonise the country.

Two missionaries get suspended jail terms in Algeria
A court in Algeria handed suspended jail terms and fines to two missionaries on Wednesday for trying to convert Muslims, a defence lawyer said.

Rachid Seghir and Djallal Dahmani each received suspended six month jail terms and 100,000 dinar ($1,613) fines in the hearing at Tissemsilt town 200 km (125 miles) southwest of Algiers for distributing documents in order to disrupt the Muslim faith, defence lawyer Khelloudja Khalfoun said.

Contacted by telephone after the hearing, Seghir said in brief remarks that he would appeal.

The two were convicted in absentia for the same offence in November 2007 but had asked for a new hearing in their presence.

Seghir was also convicted of the same offence in a separate trial in June in Tiaret town and handed a six month suspended prison term and a 200,000 dinar fine.

Algeria's constitution allows freedom of conscience but forbids non-Muslims from seeking to convert Muslims.

The Christian community is believed to number about 10,000 out of an overwhelmingly Muslim population of 33 million.

The state-appointed Higher Islamic Council, which regulates religious practice, says Protestant evangelicals are secretly trying to divide Algerians to colonise the country.

In previous comments on similar court cases, lawyers acting for the state have said that the government's concern is that Algerians, irrespective of their religion, practise religion under the framework of the law.

Reuters
Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2008, 18:28
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