Algeria: Christian sentenced to five years in jail over Jesus post

A Christian man charged with blasphemy has been sentenced to prison for five years after posting online about Jesus.

Under Algerian law all faiths are allowed to practise if they meet certain conditions, but proselytising is illegal.Reuters

The man, who has not been identified, was arrested on July 31 and accused of blasphemy against Islam.

According to Middle East Concern, he had posted on social media "about the light of Jesus overcoming the lie of Islam and its Prophet".

Despite not having a lawyer, the man was interrogated by a prosecutor on the day of his arrest and was given a hearing on Sunday, 7 August.

Though his family and an Algerian secular human rights organisation managed to appoint him legal representation, the court reportedly claimed that he had decided to defend himself and no lawyer was present during the hearing.

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He received the maximum sentence for blasphemy - five years in prison and a large fine.

The Protestant Church of Algeria reportedly plans to appeal the verdict.

There are just 39,000 Christians among Algeria's population of more than 40 million, which is predominately Muslim. The country ranks 37th on persecution charity Open Doors' list of places where it is most dangerous to be a Christian, and the charity has said the government is coming under increasing pressure to implement more Islamic legislation by Islamist groups.

Conversion, or an attempt to convert someone, from Islam is illegal and Muslim converts are forced to worship in secret. Only Muslims may hold public assembly and churches are often denied registration.

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