Algerian Christians request prayer for Pastor Rachid Seighir of a church in Oran, and a salesman who assists him in a book and stationery shop the pastor manages. Both were convicted in absentia on 27 February of “proselytising,” sentenced to two years in prison and fined approximately $3,800 US.
When the bookshop was raided in September 2017, police found Christian books, publications (including Bibles) and printing machines. Following the raid, the Governor of Oran ordered the bookshop closed
In December 2018, a court decided that the closure order was faulty due to procedural issues. In spite of that decision the bookshop was not allowed to reopen.
The pastor and bookshop salesman were charged with “agitating the faith of Muslims” under the law governing non-Muslim worship. Article 11.2 of that law forbids “…printing, storing, or distributing materials to convert or to “impugn/shake” the faith of a Muslim.” Pastor Rachid was convicted on the same charges in 2008, but was acquitted on appeal. They will also appeal this verdict.
In February Pastor Rachid gave an interview to a Christian newspaper about a blasphemy case. A man from his church was given a five-year sentence and a fine because of a cartoon which was deemed insulting of the Prophet of Islam.
In the past few months two other Christians have also been convicted of blasphemy, receiving prison sentences. After easing COVID-19 prevention measures, the government allowed other worship places to reopen, but not Protestant churches.
Christians in Algeria ask for prayer that;
- the pastor and the Algerian church leadership will know the peace of Jesus, the wisdom of the Father and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in dealing with this situation
- the pastor and the bookshop assistant will be acquitted from all charges on appeal.
- regulations governing non-Muslim worship will be amended and justly implemented, so that Christians will be able to worship freely
- there will be an end to the campaign against Christians and churches in Algeria and more freedom and tolerance towards them.
- those responsible for the closure order will know the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness and new life offered by Jesus.