.- Archbishop Emeritus Henri Teissier of Algeria has called on that country’s government to free Christian convert Habiba Kouider, who was arrested on April 1 for “practicing a non-Muslim religion” and is facing a three-year prison sentence requested by prosecutors.
According to Vatican Radio, Kouider was found with a Bible and was detained by police. “I hope Habiba Kouider will be released since the judge in the case has expressed a different opinion from that of the prosecutor,” the archbishop told the El Kabar newspaper.
Ghechir Boudjema, president of the Algerian League of Human Rights, told Radio France Internationale that Kouider has done nothing illegal. “It is a good ruling because (the judge) said the police and prosecutors made a mistake by bringing charges against Habiba Kouider,” he said. There is no law in Algeria that forbids owning a religious book such as the Bible or the Koran, he added.
In the same city of Tiaret, six Algerian Protestants have been accused of proselytism and were arrested as they left a home where they had met for prayer. Prosecutors are asking for the men to be sentenced to two years in prison for “practicing a religion in an unauthorized place.”
Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs, Bouabdallah Gholamallah, said the group was acting “outside the law” and was seeking to “constitute a (Christian) minority in order to support foreign interference in the internal affairs of Algeria.”