Slimane Bouhafs, a 49-year-old Algerian Christian convert from Islam, has been sentenced to three years in prison for “offending the Prophet [Muhammad]” and “denigrating the creed and precepts of Islam”. The charges stem for a face book post in July, when Slimane posted that “Jesus overcomes the lies of Islam”. (See Prayer request from 10th August) https://pray.interserve.org/pray-for-algerian-believer-sentenced-to-prison/
The judge originally handed down the maximum prison term of five years and ordered him to pay a fine of 100,000 Dinars (around £685; $912) but his sentence has been reduced on appeal.
Slimane has been held in custody without bail since his arrest, on 31st July, despite the fact he suffers from ill-health. His appeal against the guilty verdict was heard on 6th September.
Amnesty International has stated that “his conviction stems solely from the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression,” and that the country’s “blasphemy” laws “violate the rights to freedom of expression, conscience and religion.”
Although the Algerian constitution provides for freedom of religion, Islam is the official state religion and Christians from Muslim backgrounds face persecution and can be discriminated against in court. Under a law passed in 2006, Christians are forbidden from worshipping anywhere other than in a registered church and authorities often refuse permission for buildings to be used as places of worship.
- Pray for Slimane, his family and church, that they will know the deep peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit at this very difficult time.
- Pray that Slimane’s appeal to the supreme court will be successful, and he will be released from prison and acquitted of all charges.
- Pray for his health – Slimane suffers from gout, and there are concerns that his condition may deteriorate as a result of this ordeal and the conditions in prison.
- Pray for an end to the ongoing intimidation of Christians by the authorities, and that the fundamental right to religious freedom will be respected for all Algerians.
Psalm 146 vs 8: “The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
Source: https://www.barnabasfund.org/news, http://meconcern.org/