Algeria Muslim body slams Christian evangelists

Algeria hit back on Saturday at foreign accusations minority Christians are harassed, saying Protestant evangelicals were secretly trying to divide Algerians to colonise the mainly Muslim north African country.

Algeria Muslim body slams Christian evangelists
Abu Amrane Chikh, head of the government-appointed Higher Islamic Council, said uproar in the West over a recent prosecution of an Algerian woman on a charge of practising Christianity was being fomented for the benefit of foreigners.

"There are some church evangelists and reformist journalists who want to sow discord among brothers, and their long-term political goal is to create a Christian minority coupled with some foreign institutions," he said in an interview with the website of the El Khabar daily newspaper.

"This is a new form of colonization that is hidden behind freedom of worship," said Chikh, whose body regulates religious practice.

"The evangelist movement is characterized by a secret activity that violates the Koran and the Sunna in one way or another," he said, referring to Islam's holy book and Islamic practice based on words and deeds of the Prophet.

A "Muslim" woman in her mid-30s appeared in court this month accused of practising a non-Muslim religion without authorisation.

The state prosecutor demanded she be jailed for three years.

Algeria is almost totally Muslim. According to officials, less than 10,000 Christians, including expatriates, live in the country of 33 million.

But Chikh said in the case of Kouider Algeria was concerned to ensure respect for a provision in the 2006 law that forbids non-Muslims from seeking to convert Muslims.

"This law requires that Christians and Muslims are to exercise their religious rites in full transparency in a place reserved for that purpose and belonging to an accredited religious institution," Chikh added.

"There is no movement opposed to Christians as alleged by some tendentious minds. It is only about respecting Islam in a Muslim country, just as one must respect the Christian religion in a Christian State."

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 01 Haziran 2008, 15:11
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