HRWF (06.04.2021) – On 22 March, a judge in Oran, Algeria upheld a five-year prison sentence for a Christian convicted of reposting a cartoon of Islam’s prophet on his Facebook account three years ago. The Oran City Court of Justice also upheld his fine of 100,000 dinars (US$750). Article 144 of Algeria’s penal code stipulates that five years is the maximum penalty for insulting Muhammad.


Hamid (surname withheld for security reasons) is the 43-year-old father of four very young children. He was accused by an Islamic extremist with whom he had done business. He was a client of a honey seller, an extremist Islamist, who is at the origin of a complaint filed in December 2020 against Hamid.


He had not heard from authorities until they showed up at his door on 20 January 2020, and the next day he was sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Arzew, a costal city in Oran Province.


The case of Hamid is not an isolated case.


Algerian activist Yacine Mebarki, sentenced to 10 years in prison for insulting the precepts of Islam and other offenses on 25 November had his sentenced reduced to one year with support from the Algiers-based Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights, other advocates and the media.


Two Christians from a Muslim background from Algeria’s Kabylie area were recently convicted of blasphemy, receiving sentences of six months and three years respectively, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).


Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.