The Larbaâ Nath Irathen tribunal, near Tizi Ouzou, has convicted four Christians accused of having opened a non-Muslim place of worship without autorisation. 2 months suspended (meaning that no prison time will be done) for three of them: Abdenour, Idir et Nacer; the fourth, Mahmoud is also being sued for having lodged a foreigner without first having let the appropriate authorities know, was given 3 months suspended and a 10,000 Dinar fine (about 100 Euros).
The affair goes back to the month of August when the villagers of Aït Atelli (previously Fort National) in Kabylia, had sent a petition to complain about the opening of a place of protestant evangelical worship setup by the four Christians.
The trial was delayed three times: in August, September and then October before taking place on 28 November. On the day the representative of the public ministry demanded one year of prison for each of the accused, the minimal sentence written into the law of 2006 relating to public worship.
Even though the sentence has been reduced and remains light, the four Christians have decided to appeal, they hold, like their defence, that the ''approval received by the Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), is sufficient for the opening of a place of worship for a group of Christians under its responsability.''
After the verdict was announced on 12 December, the representative of the accusation stated to the Associated Press agency that it was not a sentence punishing religious convictions but rather ''illegal actions'' of the four men.
However for the observers for which the magazine Jeune Afrique (Young Africa) voices a shared opinion, this condemnation has its place among a string of legal actions against Algerians, mainly in Kabylia, accused of having attacked the principles of Islam by converting to Christianity.
(source : Newspapers)