Algerian Christian refugee arrested and repatriated by Tunisia

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Algerian Christian and refugee Sulieman Buhafss was arrested by Tunisian secret police on August 25, and sent back to Algeria over alleged involvement with the Movement for Self-Determination for the Kabylie (Le MAK), a political group designated by Algeria as a terror organization, Christian Worldwide Solidarity (CSW) reports. Le MAK is a group that aims to protect the rights of Algeria’s minority, mostly Sunni Muslim, Berber population.

A convert from Islam, Buhafss was previously charged and imprisoned by Algerian authorities in 2016 for proselytizing and defaming Islam, as well as for his own conversion. Buhafss had become a Christian some 20 years ago and had founded Christianity the St. Augustin Commission for Defending Algerian Christians. He had been vocal about Christian issues on social media, CSW reports.

After 20 months in prison, Buhaffs was released in July 2020 after receiving a presidential pardon in a customary tradition of pardoning certain prisoners on Independence Day, CSW said. He then left Algeria for Tunisia, where he applied for asylum and registered with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In a statement of concern at the turn of events in which Buhafss has been returned to Algeria, CSW Founder President Mervyn Thomas called for his immediate release and said: “CSW is alarmed at the arrest and subsequent refoulement of Sulieman Buhafss in violation of Tunisia’s international, regional and constitutional obligations. In returning Mr. Buhafss to Algeria, the Tunisian authorities have handed him over to a government which is already responsible for comprehensive violations of his right to freedom of religion or belief. We call on the Algerian authorities to ensure that Mr. Buhafss is released immediately and without condition, and that he does not face further spurious charges relating to his religious belief.”