An Algerian Christian man has been sentenced to five whole years in prison after making alleged "blasphemous statements" online about Islam and Prophet Muhammad.
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Slimane Bouhafs, who is 49 years old, converted to Christianity almost 20 years ago. He was arrested earlier in July for posting on his Facebook account that the light of Jesus will be able to outshine Islam and its main prophet. He also published photos of persons being executed by Islamic radicals.
On August 7, he appeared before a judge in the nearby town of Setif in Algeria's Kabylie region. He was accompanied by his son, Larbi, who is 27 years old.
"The court sentenced my father to the maximum sentence! I qualify the crime of opinion matter, because my father was expressing his ideas and spread his political views on social networks as it has always done elsewhere. It is an attack on freedom of expression because, in my opinion, everything is subject to criticism, even religions," Larbi Bouhafs said.
The Constitution of Algeria states that authorities have the privilege to assess and judge allegations of blasphemy against Islam, which is the country's state religion. If it is decided that the act made by the person was blasphemous, the person can be forced to pay a hefty fine and/or face a penalty of three to five years in prison.
The Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) has publicly supported Bouhafs. The vice president of the league, Said Salhi, decried the decision, claiming that it was an "attack" on the Constitutional fact that Algerians are supposed to have freedom of conscience and worship.