by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - An Algerian court of appeals on December 1 upheld a hefty fine given to a Christian convert from Islam who had been charged with accepting donations without a license for the purpose of proselytization, Morning Star News (MSN) reports.
Ahmed Beghal (his name has been changed to protect him) was appealing a sentence issued by a lower court in Ain-Defla Province in July, MSN reports. The lower court had ordered Beghal to pay a fine of US$716, an exorbitant amount of money for ordinary Algerians, MSN reports. Beghal was also given a six-month suspended prison sentence.
Denying the charge, Beghal said in a statement that the matter pertained to EURO 200 that a friend sent him for rent in Tunisia, where he had been stranded after a COVID-19 border closure, MSN reports. However, the National Gendarmerie in Algeria accused him of obtaining the support for evangelization to “shake the faith of a Muslim.”
Algeria is a 99 percent Muslim country, and Islam is the official state religion. Under the country’s law, it is a criminal offense to “undermine the faith of a Muslim” by evangelization: Sentences range from two to five years imprisonment and fines of 500,000 to 1 million Algerian dinars (US$3,745 to US$7,490), MSN reports.
Nevertheless, according to MSN thousands of Algerian Muslims have been coming to faith in Christ since 2000. “Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number,” MSN said in its report.
Algeria ranks 24 on the US Open Doors Watch List 2021 of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.