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World News

Pastor's 'illegal worship' prison sentence upheld in Algeria

by Lydia Davies

In Algeria, a court recently upheld a one-year prison sentence for Pastor Youssef Ourahamane, wrongfully convicted of "illegal worship," according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International.

Pastor Ourahamane, a significant leader within the Protestant Church of Algeria has witnessed the forced closure of 43 EPA churches since 2019.

Kelsey Zorzi of ADF International told The Christian Post: “No one should be punished, let alone face prison, for exercising their right to religious freedom.”

Despite appealing his conviction, which initially carried a two-year sentence and a fine, the appellate court not only upheld his reduced one-year sentence but also added a six-month suspended term.

Expressing hope for justice, Zorzi told the news outlet, “The decision of the Appellate Court to uphold Pastor Youssef’s conviction and sentence amounts to a blatant violation of his rights under both Algerian and international law and must be condemned.”

In a statement, Pastor Ourahamane remarked on the government's crackdown on Christian conversions: “Today the government is concerned that our churches are almost entirely filled with large numbers of Algerian converts."

Despite Algeria’s constitutional recognition of freedom of worship and speech, strict laws target Christians and other religious minorities. ADF International pointed out told the news outlet “In particular, the government has systematically cracked down on the Evangelical Protestant Church through church closures and raids.”

Algeria's actions have led to international scrutiny. “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its 2024 Annual Report recommended Algeria be included on the State Department’s ‘Special Watch List’ for engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom,” ADF International reported.

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