Four Algerian Christians appeared in court last week, charged with “inciting a Muslim to change his religion” and “performing religious worship in an unauthorised place”, reports Middle East Concern (MEC).
If found guilty they face to two to five years in prison and a fine of up to 1 million dinars (approx. US$8,700). A verdict is expected on Christmas Day.
The hearing, which took place in Bouira, in the north-eastern region of Kabylie, on 27 November, was initially scheduled for 10 October but postponed several times, as World Watch Monitor reported.
The four include three members of the same family from the town of Bechloul in Bouira province.
The charges follow accusations made in July by a 40-year-old woman whose husband converted to Christianity. The woman filed a complaint against her husband, and also against the Christian family that had tried to mitigate a conflict between her and her husband, accusing them of “wanting to pressure her to become a Christian”.
Last year, MEC said the increasing pressure on individual Christians and churches showed a “coordinated campaign of intensified action against churches by the governing authorities”.
Since November last year, at least eight churches have been forcibly closed in the Maghreb country – three were later reopened – as well as a Christian bookshop and day-care centre for Christian children. Dozens of other churches also received notifications ordering them to close.