International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a Christian was given a hefty fine by an appellate court in Tindouf, Algeria, Wednesday for proselytizing. The verdict, viewed by advocates as an "attack" on religious freedom, raises concerns about the trial of a second Christian in Oran who may face five years in prison on similar charges.
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Mohamed Ibaouène, a Christian convert from Islam, was fined 100,000 Algerian dinars ($1,280 U.S.) on Feb. 13 for sharing his Christian faith with a former colleague. Abdelkrim Mansouri, a machine operator at the company where Ibaouène held a management position, had filed a complaint against Ibaouène with the National Gendarmerie in Tindouf in February 2012 for allegedly pressuring him to "abandon" Islam. Months later, Ibaouène was sentenced in absentia by a court in Tigzirt to one year in prison and fined 50,000 dinars for the offense on Jul. 4.
"I [had] never been summoned by the police or any other authority--I [had] never been investigated by the police or gendarmerie," Ibaouene told Morning Star News.
Ibaouène denied the charges, claiming that it was, in fact, Mansouri who had pressured him to renounce Christianity. After appealing the verdict, an appellate court in Tindouf ruled on Feb. 13 that the prison sentence would be overturned, but the fine would be increased. Ibaouène was convicted under Article 11 of Law 03/2006, which mandates a fine up to one million dinars to anyone who "incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion."
"I'm shocked and very disappointed by this verdict," Mohamed Benbelkacem, Ibaouène's lawyer, told ICC. "The verdict had no place because there was absolutely no evidence against my client. The judge was presumably pressured by his superiors, which led to the decision to maintain the fine and cancel the prison term. Otherwise, my client would have been acquitted."
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SOURCE: Charisma News