Algeria (MNN) — Algeria has been a constant member of the World Watch List published by Open Doors USA, but Miles Windsor of Middle East Concern says the situation for indigenous believers is a little different than most.
“Persecution takes a lot of different forms, certainly in terms of the way the state limits and persecutes Christians,” he says. “There’s huge difficulty that they face in terms of situations relating to burial rites, choosing the names of their children, the import of Christian materials, compulsory Islamic religious classes in schools, and obtaining permission to build churches and register for legal recognition.”
Some of the most dangerous regulations are the strict blasphemy laws. “The blasphemy laws are used often against people who are expressing their views and religious beliefs on social media,” says Windsor.
(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)
That’s how Slimane Bouhafs ended up with a five-year prison sentence.
Bouhafs, a 50-year-old Christian who was formerly Muslim, was convicted of blasphemy on September 6th, 2016. According to Windsor, “He was accused of insulting the prophet Mohammed” when he proclaimed his faith on Facebook. Since September, his sentence has been slightly reduced, but Windsor says the government has stubbornly resisted or ignored many of Bouhafs’s appeals.
“He also faces huge issues in prison,” says Windsor. “He suffered attacks within the prison system as a result of standing up for his Christian faith. There was an initial request to have him moved from the prison he was being held in because of the attack, but again, there was no response.”
Windsor urges readers to contact their local representatives in Congress so steps can be taken to free Bouhafs, and that’s not the only way you can help.
“We can lobby human authorities, but the most powerful authority that we can turn to is the Lord,” says Windsor. “Remembering these men and women who are suffering such as Slimane Bouhafs in Algeria…is a very important and powerful way in which we can be supporting our brothers and sisters.”