Algerian Christian becomes suicidal following persecution and imprisonment

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Algerian Christian Slimane Bouhafs has struggled with suicidal thoughts after being imprisoned for violating Algeria’s blasphemy laws and then being further persecuted for his faith upon seeking refuge in Tunisia, Morning Star News reports. Algeria ranked 24th and Tunisia ranked 26th on the Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Mr. Bouhafs, aged 54, was released in 2018 after serving two years in prison in Algeria for posting a Facebook post that favorably compared Christianity to Islam, Morning Star News said. Following international intervention, Bouhafs received a partial presidential pardon and was freed before the end of his five-year sentence.

However, Bouhafs continued to suffer persecution in Algeria, receiving threatening phone calls and harassment: “Hateful people still wanted my life,” he told Morning Star News. Moreover, upon his release, the government cut off a disability payment Bouhafs had been getting for a physical problem that prevented him from working in his job as a security guard; he was left penniless.

Bouhafs then sought asylum for himself and his family in Tunisia, because he believed seeking refuge in Europe or the US was not open to him. The treatment he received in Tunisia was similar to that he had left behind in Algeria: once it became known he is Christian, he was subject to threats and harassment. Going to the police about what was happening only made things worse, Bouhafs told Morning Star News. “After finding articles on Google and finding out that I am a Christian and had been in jail accused of undermining Islam, the agents stood up against me, and they also insulted and mistreated me. I could only leave the premises forgetting the complaint,” he said.

Adding that he then had to be hospitalized for 11 days because he had become so ill, Bouhafs said: “I was experiencing indescribable anguish and stress. I only thought of one solution, suicide. I was given treatment which allowed me to resume.”

Bouhafs has filed for asylum with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) but his case has been held up by numerous administrative delays, he told Morning Star News.