Authorities aren’t cracking down on heterodox beliefs but on ‘groups that operate clandestinely’, says official
By Abdul Razak bin Abdullah
December 19, 2018
An Algerian appeals court on Wednesday upheld an earlier court verdict sentencing 27 people of the Ahmadi faith to jail terms of between three and six months for “insulting Islam”.
In May, a court in Algeria’s northern city of Bejaia slapped the 27 defendants with prison sentences, prompting defense lawyers to unsuccessfully appeal the decision.
In a Wednesday statement, the Algerian Association for Defending Human Rights expressed solidarity with the defendants, urging the Algerian authorities to “guarantee freedom of belief for all Algerians within the framework of diversity, tolerance and coexistence”.
Religious Affairs Minister Mohamed Issa, for his part, recently said that the government was not “cracking down” on heterodox beliefs, but rather on “groups that operate clandestinely, collect money illegally or offend the religion of Islam”.
The Ahmadi sect is an Islamic revival movement founded in British-held India in the late 19th century.