10/21/2021 Algeria (International Christian Concern) – This week, International Christian Concern (ICC) joined Jubilee Campaign and 17 other organizations in sending a letter to members of Congress urging them to work for the release of Hamid Soudad, an Algerian Christian imprisoned under the country’s blasphemy law. The letter also pointed to the deterioration of religious freedom in Algeria as a whole, calling on Congress to act for the protection of Algeria’s religious minority community.
The letter, addressed to the co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ), outlined Soudad’s case. Algerian authorities arrested and sentenced Soudad earlier this year under the blasphemy law for sharing a Facebook post from 2018 depicting the Prophet Muhammed. The letter also notes the pattern of blasphemy cases levied against other Christians throughout Algeria recently as an overall downward trend of religious freedom in the country.
According to a recent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom country update on Algeria corresponding with the sending of this letter, Algeria’s recent conduct merits a response by the U.S. State Department by placing Algeria on its special watch list for countries that engage in and tolerate severe violations of international religious freedom. Such a designation would send a strong message to Algeria that the United States will not tolerate such persecution from the Algerian government.
ICC published an updated brief on religious freedom conditions in Algeria earlier this year, illustrating the government’s continued persecution of Christians through restrictions on places of worship and blasphemy laws. ICC urges the State Department to work with Congress in taking action against the human rights abuses in Algeria and including it on its special watch list for violators of international religious freedom.
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