It is not good to be Ahmadis in Algeria.
Six people were convicted on Wednesday (June 28th) by the Batna Court of Appeals (430 km from Algiers) for “unauthorized collection of donations, activity in an unauthorized association and distribution of documents infringing The national interest.” Five of them were sentenced to a one-year prison term while the sixth was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence.
Arrested last February, they were convicted and sentenced in first instance between two and four years in prison and fined 300,000 Algerian dinars (2,400 euros). The sentences were reduced but they guilty in the eyes of the authorities while the Ahmadis claim their innocence. This is the heaviest sentence imposed on members of the Ahmadi community.
Considered in Algeria as a sect, Ahmadism has been the subject of a wave of repression in recent months. The minister of religious affairs, Mohamed Aïssa, affirmed in February that “to belong to the Ahmadis means to be outside the circle of Islam” . He subsequently declared in April that the state had “no intention of fighting the Ahmadiyya sect” and was only applying the laws relating to associations and the collection of donations and the facts highlighted by Amnesty International are wrong.
Restrictions on freedom of expression of concern
The NGO Amnesty International called on Algeria to put an end to its campaign of repression against the Ahmadis. “At least 280 Ahmadi women and men were investigated or prosecuted last year after a wave of arrests following the authorities’ rejection of an application for registration of an Ahmadi association And the inauguration of a mosque in 2016, ” she said on Monday (June 19th), demanding the release of the six detainees before their trial on appeal.
“The repression that struck the Ahmadis last year is alarming. This wave of arrests and prosecutions of Ahmadis clearly shows that the authorities are tightening restrictions on freedom of expression in the country, ” said Heba Morayef, Director of Research on North Africa at Amnesty International.
According to Heba Morayef, director of research on North Africa at Amnesty International, the Ahmadis are 2,000 to live in Algeria. In March 2016, the Algerian authorities rejected an application by Ahmadis for the registration of an association.
In June of the same year, the police raided a recently built Ahmadi mosque in Blida province on the day it was to be opened and closed it. Since then, “Amnesty International has learned from local sources that the Algerian authorities have prosecuted more than 280 Ahmadis. They are notably charged with belonging to an unauthorized association, Unauthorized donation, worship in unauthorized places, dissemination of foreign propaganda harmful to the interests of the nation, and “denigration” of “dogma” and the precepts of Islam ” .
“The right to practice one’s religion collectively is a fundamental aspect of the right to freedom of religion. It is as important as the right to individual freedom of conscience. As long as all religious groups and places of worship must obtain the approval of the authorities, there will be no freedom of religion in Algeria, ” Heba Morayef said.
The cassation appeal allows the accused to remain free for the time being. “The right to practice one’s religion collectively is a fundamental aspect of the right to freedom of religion. It is as important as the right to individual freedom of conscience. As long as all religious groups and places of worship must obtain the approval of the authorities, there will be no freedom of religion in Algeria, Heba Morayef said.
Src Via : Times Of Ahmad