On Sunday, August 7, a court sentenced Slimani Bouhafs, a 49-year-old Algerian Christian man, to the maximum penalty of five years imprisonment on blasphemy charges. Algerian cybercrime police arrested Slimani Bouhafs on July 31, accusing him of blasphemy against Islam because of a statement he posted on Facebook. According to Middle East Concern, he published a message on social media “about the light of Jesus overcoming the lie of Islam and its Prophet in the Kabylie area.” President Haddad of the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) confirmed the sentence.
Middle East Concern reports that although his family and an Algerian secular human rights organization appointed lawyers for him, the court claimed that he had elected to defend himself. According to Saïd Salhi, Vice President of the Algerian League for Human Rights (LADDH), this case is an attack on the freedom of conscience and worship. “It is a new attack against the rights guaranteed by national laws.”
The LADDH calls for a broad mobilization to obtain Bouhafs’ unconditional release from prison. Salhi decried the trial as unfair. “He appeared before the prosecutor the same day of his arrest, without the presence of a lawyer.” The news of Bouhafs’ sentence was a shock for the family of the condemned Christian, and they are concerned about his health. According to his daughter, he suffers from inflammatory rheumatism, a disease that worsens under stress and requires him to follow a special diet. The president of the EPA announced that the council of the church will appeal the sentence.
Father, truly You are the Light of the World, casting out the darkness of sin and evil. We lift up Slimani Bouhafs as he faces this harsh sentence, praying that the appeal will be successful and he will be released soon. You know his special health needs; sustain him during this time and encourage him with a knowledge of our prayers on his behalf. We pray Your hand of protection over Your church in Algeria that this will not usher in a season of increased persecution, but rather will be used to grow Your church and lift high the name of Jesus that all might know that He is truly the Lord of lords. It is in His precious and holy Name that we pray. Amen.