by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - A court of appeals in Algeria has reduced a fine given to a group of 11 Christians convicted of “unauthorized non-Muslim worship,” but it retained a suspended prison sentence that was also given, International Christian Concern (ICC) reports. Concerned that Muslim citizens should not be diverted from their faith, Algeria passed a law in 2006 designed to repress non-Muslim worship.
The 11 Algerian Christians were arrested on December 4 last year, when police raided a worship service they were at in Tizi-Ouzou, ICC said. A lower court sentenced the group to a six months suspended prison sentence and a fine of 200,000 dinars (about $1440 USD).
The Christians appealed and, on April 28, the court of appeals reduced the fine to 100,000 dinars (about $720). However, the court of appeals retained the six-month suspended prison sentence. “Algerian authorities severely restrict the ability of Christians to worship in the country, including the closure of churches and the arrest of Christians living out their faith,” ICC said in its report.
Algeria ranks 22nd on the US Open Doors World Watch List of top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted.
“While Christians make up a tiny percentage of the population of Algeria, they face increasing obstacles to religious freedom. Laws regulating non-Muslim worship ban anything that would ‘shake the faith of a Muslim’ or be used as “a means of seduction intending to convert a Muslim to another religion,” Open Doors explained in a website statement.