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Algerian Christian appeals sentence of a year in prison for “insulting” Facebook post

with World Watch Monitor/Morning Star News

An Algerian Christian has been sentenced to a year in prison for a Facebook post deemed to have insulted Islam.

On 8th January, a court in Bouira, located 100 kilometres east of Algiers, found Samir Chamek, 34, guilty of insulting Islam and its prophet over items he posted on his Facebook page.

The 33-year-old actor and father of two, who has been a Christian since 2005, says he will now appeal to the Supreme Court.

The sentencing follows a year-long legal battle sparked in December, 2015, when cyber-crime police officers saw pictures and comments on Chamek’s Facebook page which they said were “accusing the prophet Muhammad of terrorism and murder and comparing the prophet to Hitler, mentioning the persecution and massacre of the Jews”.

Mr Chamek was subsequently detained by police on 6th December, 2015, but then released before legal proceedings were initiated against him for the charge of offending and insulting Islam and its prophet under an article of the Algerian Criminal Code.

In July last year, he was tried and fined 100,000 Algerian dinars ($US900) but the public prosecutor appealed the decision. At the appeal in October – conducted in Mr Chamek’s absence – the court handed down a maximum penalty of five year’s imprisonment and a 100,000 dinar fine.

Following an appeal by Mr Chamek, his sentence was on 8th January cut to one year’s imprisonment and no fine.

Mr Chamek told World Watch Monitor he would appeal the latest decision in the Supreme Court. “I explained to the judge that I only shared publications from other people, and I do not master the computer and French very well.”

On 6th September last year another Algerian Christian, Slimane Bouhafs, was sentenced to three years in prison after being accused of offending Islam and its prophet in a post on Facebook. He is currently serving his prison sentence and his family has sought a presidential pardon, so far without success.


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