One year in prison for "proselytism"Taken with kind permission from the Newsletter "Intolerance and Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief“ edited by Willy Fautré on behalf of Human Rights Without Frontiers Int'l - www.hrwf.net
HRWF (07.02.2013) - On 23 January, the Court of Cassation confirmed the sentence to one-year imprisonment and a 500 EUR fine of Ibouène Mohamed, a Christian of Muslim origin, for talking about his faith at his workplace.
Once, Ibouène who was working in a multinational in Tindouf talked about God and his faith to a colleague. The latter lodged a complaint against him for attempting to convert him.
In 2008, Habiba Kouider, a Muslim convert to Christianity, was stopped by the police while she was carrying several Christian books. Kouider's brothers learned about her conversion to Christianity after her case sparked national and international media attention and kicked her out of the family's home. She is still waiting for the final verdict.
In 2006, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika issued Ordinance 06-03, which regulates non-Muslim religious worship. The ordinance permits non-Muslims to practice religious rights, but such practice must not violate public order, morality, and the rights of others. However, Ordinance 06-03 forbids attempting to proselytize Muslims, or even to shake the faith of a Muslim.' As demonstrated in Section 2 herein, Algerian authorities have used these laws to harass and persecute minority religious groups.
Under Ordinance 06-03, printing, storing, or distributing materials for converting Muslims carries heavy penalties: up to five years in jail and up to one million Algerian dinars. As such, Christians do not carry religious materials with them out of fear. Likewise, proselytism carries heavy punishments: lay persons can receive one to three years in jail and fines up to 500,000 dinars; religious leaders can receive three to five years in prison and may be fined up to one million dinars. Further, conduct that incites, constrains, or seduces with a tendency to convert a Muslim, or using education, health, social, culture, training . . . or any financial means to convert a Muslim is punishable by five years in jail and fines up to 500,000 dinars.
Although government officials stated that the ordinance does not impose any extraordinary burdens on non-Muslims that are not faced by Muslims as well, no reciprocal legislation banning Muslim proselytism of non-Muslims exists.
Universal Periodic Review of Algeria in 2012 and 2008
In May 2012, Algeria presented its human rights report at the UN Universal Periodic Review. Although the European Center for Law and Justice, Jubilee Campaign and Open Doors sent a submission denouncing the governmental limitations to freedom of religion or belief, including the law forbidding the sharing of one's beliefs, the issue was not raised during the interactive debate and in the recommendations.
In 2008, the Holy See, Belgium and Brazil had criticized Ordinance 06-03 during the interactive debate and Algeria had responded:
s in par. 525 to 526 of the HRC report:
525. Ordinance nr 06-03 of 28 February 2006 fixing the conditions and the regulations concerning the practice of non-Muslim religions led to numerous comments. Article 2 of this text explicitly provides that The Algerian State guarantees the free exercise of religion in the framework of the respect of the provisions of the Constitution, of this Ordinance, of the laws and regulations in force, of public order and the fundamental freedoms of the other persons. The State also guarantees tolerance and respect between the various religions.» The said provisions concerning non-Muslim religions are only an extension to these religions of those already in force and applicable to the Muslim religion:
- Ordinance 77-03 of 19 February 1997 concerning religious collections
- Executive decree 91-81 of 23 March 1991 concerning mosques
- Article 87 bis of Law 01-09 of 26 June 2001.
526. Ordinance of 28 February 2006 fills in a juridical gap. It was adopted in the aftermath of numerous requests from citizens who noted that under cover of religious freedom an aggressive proselytism was instrumentalizing their current problems sowing confusion and division in the families and the communities. Moreover, these destabilizing activities are carried out by non qualified, non recognized and non authorizes persons. In fact, what is applicable to Islam, the majority religion in Algeria, was extended to the other religions on the basis of the non-discrimination principle. It is an oxymoron to accuse Algeria of intolerance, a country which is proud to be the motherland of Emir Abdelkader, who saved persecuted Christians. Moreover, Evangelical proselytism which destabilizes interreligious coexistence equally affects today African countries predominantly Christian and Muslim."