Algerian Christian ‘Free at Last’

ALGIERS – Idir Hamdad is a native Algerian. He was born into and raised in a Muslim home. In 2002, he and his family converted to Christianity which led to harassment from their neighbors. Islam is the state religion in Algeria, so conversion to any other religion is considered apostasy and is punishable by death. Nonetheless, Idir and his family became involved in a local church where he became involved in the children’s ministry.

In April 2016, Idir traveled abroad to attend a workshop related to the children’s ministry. When he returned at the end of the month, he was stopped and apprehended by customs officials. His crime? He was carrying a Bible, some cross-shaped key rings, and some Christian books.

Idir described his eight-hour detention as police officers pouring over him like rain. “Are you a Christian? Where did you come from? Who gave you these items? Who are they for?” He was allowed no food or water during the interrogation and the police confiscated his Bible and the other items he had brought along upon his return.

He thought his ordeal was over. It was not.

In March 2018, he discovered that a judgment had been handed down in the court of Dar-Wl-Beida five months earlier. He had been found guilty of importing unlicensed goods and sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 20,000 Algerian Dinars.

Idir obtained obtain legal counsel and the prayer support of his Christian friends at his local church. In the meantime, the prosecutor in the case appealed to the court for a harsher sentence.

Nonetheless, the Lord clearly intervened when Idir appeared before a sympathetic judge on July 9th who determined that Idir had been prosecuted solely on the grounds that he is a Christian. The judge pronounced a “total acquittal.” In addition, the judge ordered the government to pay all costs and fees related to the case.

Idir declared, “I am so happy to be free at last. I no longer have to travel all the way to Algiers, about 200 kilometers, to present myself before the judge and to answer false and unjustified accusations.”

Idir’s problems seem to be over, but his pastor, Salah Chalah, who is also the Vice President of the Protestant Church of Algeria, reminded reporters that, “It’s important to remain vigilant until the Church in Algeria can get its full registration and becomes a social reality.”


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