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USA News

Bipartisan group of Congressmen express concerns over religious freedom in Algeria

by Premier Journalist

Members of Congress have requested that the Biden Administration demand that Algeria speak and change its approach to select religious freedom concerns.

Several senators in Congress have written a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting that the Biden Administration address growing concerns about Algeria in upcoming diplomatic engagements with the country. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) organized the letter and was able to get it signed by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Thom Thillis (R-NC), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

"In December 2020, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution calling for the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws throughout the world, once again demonstrating the bipartisan commitment to international religious freedom," reads the letter. "In that spirit, we reiterate our deep concern with the treatment of religious minority groups in Algeria and recognize that the freedom to practice one's faith freely is one of our nation's most sacred values and a universal human right."

The letter specifically notes the country's blasphemy laws, which allow the country to imprison minority religion practitioners based solely on the claim that they had insulted Islam or spoken blasphemy. This law has been abused in the past to imprison non-political actors, such as Hamid Soudad. Soudad was given a five-year prison sentence after posting picture of the Prophet Mohammed on a social network.

Algeria has also limited local opportunities for worship among Christians while allowing Muslims to continue gathering during the COVID-19 crisis. This decision is contrary to the Algerian Constitution as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

International Christian Concern continues to express concerns about Algeria's religious freedom practices. ICC stated in a brief that while leadership changes in recent years allowed the country to potentially adopt more ethical practices, the country's leadership has "[doubled] down on repressing its vulnerable Christian minority."

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