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Repressive turn in Algeria: crushing religious freedom
March 17 at 10:00 am - 11:00 am EDT
This Hill Briefing is convened to follow-up on the State Department’s designation of Algeria on the Special Watch List (SWL) for “engaging or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom.” The placement of Algeria on the SWL follows growing concerns raised by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Senate members and civil society and human rights organizations, of severe violations of religious freedom by the Algerian government, including its arbitrary detention of religious minorities on trumped up blasphemy charges and the closure of houses of worship. One notable case is that of Hamid Soudad, father of two. Algerian authorities arrested and sentenced him to five years in prison for blasphemy in the beginning of January 2021 with an expedited trial one day after arrest, the Oran City Appeals Court upheld the unlawful sentence on 22nd March for a cartoon he shared on his social media in 2018. In addition, during his trial, the court officials questioned Hamid Soudad on his conversion to Christianity and his membership in the protestant church in Algeria. This briefing will take place a week before the anniversary of the Court of Appeal’s sentencing of Mr. Soudad and provide an overview of the religious freedom conditions in Algeria and recommendations on what meaningful actions the US Congress Members can take to improve the situation, noting the Senate letter on Algeria and the bipartisan and unanimous support for the repeal of the blasphemy laws last year with the passing of H. Res 512.