Algerian Christians Arrested for Eating During Muslim Fast

Thursday, September 23, 2010

By Joseph C. DeCaro

AIN EL HAMMAN, Algeria (Worthy News)-- Two Christian construction workers were in court Aug. 13 for not observing the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

Hocine Hocini and Fellak Salem appeared before the provincial court in Ain El Hammam, Algeria, for eating at noon on a private construction site during the month of Ramadan.

The Algerians were arrested by police officers who enforced the legal provisions that protect Islamic religious regulations from being disobeyed; therefore, these Christians must answer for their "illegal" sacrilegious act.

"I am optimistic," said Hocini. "I have no regrets, I am a Christian. We are innocent, we have not hurt anyone. We are Christians and we did not eat in a public place."

"Algeria has ratified international conventions on freedom of worship," said Ait Larbi, one of the defense lawyers for the two Algerians. "It is an outright violation of the constitution."

While the international community protests their arrest, crowds of Algerians expressed their fear of unwanted influence from Afghanistan, an Islamic state where people can still be stoned for eating breakfast during the daylight hours of Ramadan.

"Kabylia is not Kabul," they shouted in protest.

Lawyers for the two Christians demanded their acquittal on the grounds that existing Algerian laws do not prohibit citizens from breaking the Ramadan fast.