Case against Christians arrested during Ramadan fast thrown out of court

Thursday, October 7, 2010

By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Worthy News)-- An Algerian court acquitted two Christians of breaking the Ramadan fast despite the prosecution's demand that they be punished for "insulting Islam."

In August, authorities arrested workers Salem Fellak and Hocine Hocini for eating lunch during Ramadam on a private construction site in Ain El-Hammam, Tizi Ouzou province, after local police confronted the pair for not fasting, discovered that they were Christians and then accused them of insulting Islam.

"I do not apologize for anything, and I regret nothing," said Fellak. "I have the right to not fast. I am a Christian, and until found guilty, the Algerian constitution guarantees respect for individual freedoms."

After their arrest, Hocini and Fellak were interrogated for two hours and then taken to court where a state prosecutor continued to question them. When the men again identified themselves as Christians, the prosecutor replied that Algeria was an Islamic state that had no room for Christians.

However, a judge in Ain El Hamman dismissed the case ruling that "no article provided for a legal pursuit" against the two Christians, according to the BBC.

An Algerian church leader told Compass News the government is employing subtle ways to put pressure on its Christian minority.

"I think they don't want to do anything openly," said the leader, who requested anonymity. "So they are using opportunities they can find, like not giving authorization to build the church in Tizi Ouzou, (and the men) not fasting during Ramadan."