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Algerians sentenced

FOUR CHRISTIANS in Algeria have been fined and given suspended prison sentences by a court in the south-western town of Tiaret for “illegally practising a non-Muslim faith”. Two others were acquitted, writes Gerald Butt.

The lawyer for the convicted Christians said that her clients would appeal. Another court in Algeria will be hearing the appeal of two other Algerian Christians who received similar sentences last year on similar charges.

Under changes in the law introduced two years ago, religious worship is allowed only in buildings approved by the state. Since then, about 20 churches and a number of mosques have been closed down.

The state-run Higher Islamic Council in Algeria has accused Protestant Evangelicals of seeking to convert Muslims as a way of dividing and colonising the country.

But the head of Algeria’s Protestant Church, Mustapha Krim, in a written statement, appealed to “Algeria’s highest authorities to respect the constitutional law which allows for freedom of worship, to put an end to persecutions which target the Christian community and safeguard their right to practise their religion freely.”

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