‘Blasphemous’ Facebook Post Lands Algerian Christian in Prison for One Year

An Algerian Christian man was sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad.
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with a Facebook logo as he poses with a Samsung S4 smartphone in this photo illustration

Reuters/Dado Ruvic

An Algerian Christian man was sentenced to one year in prison for allegedly insulting Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

After one year of battling his case in court, Samir Chamek was given a one-year prison sentence for sharing several posts on Facebook that reportedly accused Muhammad of “terrorism and murder.”

The posts also reportedly compared Islam’s holy prophet with Hitler and mentioned the “persecution and massacre of the Jews,” according to World Watch Monitor.

Chamek was initially sentenced to five years in prison and was fined 100,000 Algerian dinars. However, he appealed his case, and the court decided to shorten his prison term to one year and cancelled the fine.

The 34-year-old Christian man first found himself in the middle of the controversy in 2015 when he was accused of sharing allegedly blasphemous Facebook posts, which were written in French.

He later admitted he did not understand French very well and that his knowledge of computers is poor.

He was charged with insulting Islam and Muhammad under Article 144 of the Algerian Criminal Code.

Police arrested Chamek on Dec. 6, 2015 and questioned him about the accusation. They asked him to log in to his Facebook account so they could look at the said posts. They also interrogated him for five hours.

"I was arrested and taken to the police station, where I was interrogated for nearly five hours. I was asked to open my Facebook page, which I did," Chamek told World Watch Monitor.

However, the police did not keep him in custody and released him after the interrogation.

About seven months later, Chamek went to trial, where he was fined 100,000 Algerian dinars. The Public Prosecutor, who was hoping Chamek would receive a two-year sentence and a 50,000 fine, was not pleased with the court's decision and filed an appeal.

The court then changed Chamek’s sentence to five years with 100,000 fine. Chamek filed an appeal, citing his poor grasp of French and computer knowhow. The court reduced his sentence to one year with no fine.

"I explained to the judge that I only shared publications from other people, and I do not master the computer and French very well."

Chamek said he will file an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Algeria is a predominantly Islam nation. Most Christians in the country are converts from Islam. They suffer from intense persecution, especially from their Muslim family members.

Legal restrictions also hinder Algerian Christians from fully expressing their faith. Ordinance 06-03, for example, forbids people, except Muslims, from holding a public assembly. This regulation applies even to places of worship, according to Open Doors U.K.

Aside from this, terrorist activity, particularly from al Qaeda, is increasing.

Algeria is listed as a nation where persecution is “high” in the 2017 World Watch List, which gives the top 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. The nation ranks number 36 on the list.

Despite all of these, the number of Muslims who have embraced faith in Christ is increasing, according to The Voice of the Martyrs.

Tags : Algeria, Algeria Christians, Algeria Christian persecution, Persecution, Samir Chamek, blasphemy, Algerian Criminal Code Article 144, Algerian Criminal Code, Facebook, social media, Muhammad, Islam, Christianity, persecution of Christians in Algeria