On 5th and 8th August Middle East Concern sent out prayer requests from Algeria for Slimane Bouhafs (49), a Christian man who has been given a heavy fine and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment – the maximum punishment for blasphemy against Islam and its Prophet. The Église Protestante d’Algérie (the EPA, the Protestant Church of Algeria) has filed an appeal against the verdict.
This week it has been decided that the first hearing in the appeal will commence on 30th August.
Slimane has been in prison since the sentence was passed. A member of his family who has visited him has reported that Slimane underwent long sessions of interrogation until late at night on the day of his arrest. Contrary to statements made by the court, Slimane has protested that: he was deprived of his right to a lawyer; he was not offered time to prepare his defence; and he did not forego his right to appoint a lawyer. A group of lawyers assigned by the EPA and by secular human rights organisations will now take up Slimane’s case.
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a. that Slimane, his family and his church will experience the peace of Jesus and the comfort of the Holy Spirit at this very difficult time
b. that Slimane will be treated justly during his appeal process, and that he will be acquitted of all charges as soon as possible
c. for his health – Slimane suffers from gout, and there are concerns that his condition may deteriorate as a result of this ordeal and the conditions in the prison
d. for an end to the ongoing intimidation of Christians by the authorities, and that Christians in Algeria will be allowed their fundamental rights to religious freedom
e. that despite persecution the church in Algeria will grow further, and will continue to witness to the Good News of Jesus throughout the country