Samir Chamek, 34 was found guilty of insulting Islam on its prophet on the social media platform Facebook, on January 8, 2017. He was sentenced to a year in prison by the court in Bouira, Algeria, Africafrique reports.
Chamek will appeal his sentence, taking his case to the Algerian Supreme Court.
The incident took place in December 2015. Pictures and comments were seen on Chamek’s Facebook page by Bouira Police’s cyber crime officials which were said to be “accusing the prophet Muhammad of terrorism and murder and comparing the prophet to Hitler, mentioning the persecution and massacre of the Jews”.
Chamek was detained by police and then released. He told World Watch Monitor:
“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.”
In July 2016, Chamek was fined 100,000 Algerian dinars ($900 USD). When Chamek appealed, the prosecution lobbied for a heavier sentence, and Chamek was given five years in jail alongside the fine in October. Chamek appealed that sentence, and now just faces the one year imprisonment.
Chamek insists that he is not guilty. “I will appeal to the Supreme Court,” he told WWM. “I explained to the judge that I only shared publications from other people, and I do not master the computer and French (which many Algerians speak) very well.”
Another Algerian Christian, Slimane Bouhafs was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in September 2016 for offending Islam on Facebook.
There are just 39,000 Christians among Algeria’s population of more than 40 million, which is predominantly Muslim. Conversion from Islam, or an attempt to convert someone else, is illegal and Muslim converts are forced to worship in secret.
Persecution watchdog Open Doors ranks Algeria at number 36 on its 2017 World Watch List, which lists the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian.
By Joseph Hartropp