Tunisia Grants Asylum To Algerian Christian, But Persecution Remains

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

(Worthy News) - A Christian man who escaped from Algeria after being jailed and persecuted for “blasphemy” against Islam has received temporary asylum in neighboring Tunisia, Worthy News learned.

Slimane Bouhafs, a former Muslim, confirmed he fled his native Algeria due to persecution. But he cautioned that he was still harassed for his faith in Christ while staying in Tunisia.

The troubles of Bouhafs, 54, began when he was detained in Algeria on July 31, 2016, for posting a perceived blasphemous message on his Facebook website. In the post, he said the Light of Jesus Christ could overcome “the lie” of Islam and its Prophet Mohammed.

On August 7, 2016, he was convicted of “insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad” and sentenced to five years in prison, trial observers said.

His sentence was reportedly reduced to three years on appeal, and, following a presidential pardon, he was freed after 20 months behind bars.

However, after his April 2018 release, Bouhafs said he experienced ongoing persecution and was forced to flee to Tunisia. In Tunisia, authorities reportedly granted him refugee status until he can relocate to another country.

His wife, a Muslim, remains in Algeria, along with their three adult children. He met family members until the borders were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Worthy News learned.

And Bouhafs stressed that he also faces persecution in Tunisia, another Muslim-majority nation. “I am as threatened here as I was in my country,” he said in published remarks.

When he went to a police station to report threats by three men, officers allegedly insulted and mistreated him after discovering he was a Christian.

Christians supporting Bouhafs said they were praying he will find a home in a safe location. “May his steadfast endurance and faith be a testimony to those around him, as well as to his wife and children, “ commented advocacy group Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC).

The group urged its partners to pray that all family members staying behind and many others will find faith in Christ. VOMC said it was also asking prayers for other Christians in North Africa facing persecution, “asking that they would be strengthened.”

It was crucial, VOMC, that they would be “encouraged in their faith, and that they would experience joy in all circumstances” amid mounting Islamic pressure.