Penalty for “unauthorized worship” reduced for 11 Christians

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TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria — Eleven Christians convicted of “unauthorized worship” have received less severe sentences on appeal.

Morning Star News reported that the group initially received a six-month suspended prison sentence and a fine of 200,000 dinars ($1,380) each. The April 28 decision on the appeal reduces the fine portion of the sentence to 100,000 dinars ($690).

The 11 people and a French guest speaker were jailed after Tizi-Ouzou police raided the gathering on December 4, 2021. Upon their release, the French visitor was ordered to leave Algeria, according to Morning Star.

No application approved

Algeria’s Law 06/03 states that non-Muslims have official permission to pray in designated buildings, but advocacy group Middle East Concern said the government had not approved any requests for permission.

The state religion of Algeria is Islam; 99% of the population is Muslim.

Over the past four years, authorities have sealed off 16 Protestant churches and ordered several others closed, Morning Star said, citing MEC. Some Christian leaders have been prosecuted for “blasphemy” and “proselytism”, and three Christians are in prison.

Algeria is No. 22 on Open Doors’ 2022 global watchlist of the toughest places to be a Christian.

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