Imagine being accused and put on trial for talking about your faith with a friend in their home. And knowing that you could be put in prison for years for that conversation.
For four persecuted Algerian Christians, this is reality. Christians are asking us to pray with four persecuted believers–three from the same family–who are on trial for talking about their faith in an “unauthorized place.” If convicted, each faces a prison term of two to five years and a fine of up to $8,700.
The verdict is expected on Christmas Day, December 25.
Accusations Under Pressure
In July, a Muslim Algerian woman and her family filed a complaint accusing her Christian husband, Rachid Ouali, and a Christian family attempting to stem the conflict between the couple of bringing her to a church service and wanting to convert her to Christianity. Rachid and the family deny the accusations, which Ouali’s wife later told him she made under pressure from relatives, Ouali told Morning Star News.
In late June, Ouali and his wife went to have lunch at the home of a friend, Ali Larchi and his family. The Larchi family is well-known in the Bouira Province as Christians who receive guests of all kinds, Ouali said. Bouira Province lies in Kabylie region, which has a sizeable population of Christian converts from Islam.
As the two wives conversed, Ouali and Larchi began telling each other stories of Christ’s faithfulness in their lives, Ouali said. Suddenly, Ouali’s wife jumped to her feet and cried out in anger, “You have brought me here to convert me and to deny my religion. You laid a trap for me.”
“She kept raising her voice to make herself heard outside,” he said.
Ouali’s wife left the house and went to her parents’ nearby home, where she told relatives, including two brothers who are both policemen, about the meal. The brothers demanded that she file a complaint against her husband and his friends, Ouali said.
Ouali said that his wife later confessed to him, “I did not want to do it; it was my brothers who forced me to do it.”
The day before Tuesday’s hearing, he added, she called him and told him, “I’m stuck between my family and my husband, I do not know what to do.”
n a November 27 court hearing, the court listened to both parties. Under Algerian law, the charges are punishable crimes and are specifically designed to “protect” Islam. The law, commonly known as Law 03/06, calls for prison/fines for anyone who “incites, constrains or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion.”
The Christians’ attorney, Sadek Najib, says he is hopeful for a positive outcome.
“If this woman denies having been forced to be a Christian and to renounce Islam, the case will be closed,” Najib said. “The prosecution will be canceled since their accusation is unfounded.”
‘Protection’ for Muslims
Islam is the state religion in Algeria, where 99 percent of the population of 40 million people is Muslim.
Last year, Middle East Concern said the increasing pressure on individual Christians and churches showed a “coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities.” Algeria is ranked No. 42 on the 2018 World Watch List. Christian leaders say the 03/06 law is unconstitutional, citing the Algerian constitution’s Article 42, which guarantees freedom of belief, opinion and worship.
Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have reportedly put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.
Praying With Algerian Believers
Algerian Christians request prayer that:
- These four Christians will be acquitted of all charges.
- They and all Christians in Algeria will know the Lord’s peace, wisdom, and guidance in the face of ongoing pressure.
- Those responsible for the intimidation of Christians would know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life Jesus offers.
- There would be just laws and greater societal tolerance towards Christians in Algeria.
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