Rachid Ouali, a Christian, is facing trial in Algeria due to his Muslim spouse accusing him of attempting to evangelize her. Oulai’s 67-year-old Christian comrade, Ali Larchi, has also being charged with the alleged crime. On October 9, 2018, the two men appeared in court in Bouira. In July of 2018, Oulai’s wife filed a complaint stating the two Christians brought her to a church service where they urged her to leave the Muslim faith.
Both Christian men deny the charges made against them. Ouali told Morning Star News that his spouse informed him she made the complaint after succumbing to pressure from relatives. Her name was withheld. Ouali and his wife reside approximately 19 miles southeast of Bouira in Lekser. In late June of this year, the couple went to eat lunch at Larchi’s residence in nearby Bechloul. Larchi and his wife and five kids are well-known in the area for their Christian hospitality. Situated in the Kabylie Region, Bouuira Province contains a considerable population of Christian converts from Islam.
During the meal, Ouali and Larchi’s wives conversed with each other. At the same time, the two Christian men started reminiscing about Christ’s faithfulness in their lives. While telling anecdotes, the two men reportedly mentioned Jesus’s name and exclaimed “Hallelujah” numerous times. Ouali told Morning Star News that his wife suddenly jumped up after overhearing his conversation with Larchi. He said his spouse angrily cried out, “You have brought me here to convert me and to deny my religion. You laid a trap for me.” Ouali added, “She kept raising her voice to make herself heard outside.”
After her outburst, Ouali’s wife allegedly left the lunch and went to her parents’ house. Upon arriving at her parents’ home, she informed relatives, including two brothers who are both policeman, about the meal. Her brothers demanded she go to the National Gendarmerie in order to file a complaint against Ouali and Larchi. On July 2, 2018, Ouali’s wife filed the complaint charging her husband and Larchi of having taken her to a church service and attempting to persuade her to abandon her Islamic faith in order to convert to Christianity.
Algeria’s law 03/2006, often referred to as simply Law 03/06, mandates a fine of 500,000 to one million dinars (or $4,343 to $8,687) and a prison term of two to five years for a person who “incites, constrains, or utilizes means of seduction tending to convert a Muslim to another religion, or using for this purpose the institutions of education, health, social, cultural, or educational institutions, or other establishment, or financial advantage; or makes, stores or distributes printed documents or films or other audiovisual medium or means intended to undermine the faith of a Muslim.”
Ouali revealed to Morning Star News that his wife later confided, “I did not want to do it; it was my brothers who forced me to do it.” The accused man stated his wife called him on October 8, 2018 and informed him “I’m stuck between my family and my husband, I do not know what to do.”
At the October 9, 2018 hearing, the trial was postponed until November 6, 2018 after the complainants’ requested it be moved. Ouali and Larchi’s lawyer, Sadek Najib, is hopeful about the future outcome of the case.
“If this woman denies having been forced to be a Christian and to renounce Islam, the case will be closed. The prosecution will be canceled since their accusation is unfounded,” he said.
Referencing Article 42 of Algeria’s constitution, Christian leaders claim Law 03/06 is unconstitutional. Article 42 guarantees freedom of opinion, belief, and worship.
According to Open Doors, a whopping 99 percent of Algeria’s population identifies as Muslim. In a fact sheet, the organization that serves persecuted Christians worldwide contends, “Christians in Algeria suffer from various restrictions and challenges imposed by both the state and society. Laws regulating non-Muslim worship, banning conversion and prohibiting blasphemy make proselytizing and public expression of the Christian faith dangerous. Even casual conversations between friends and family members regarding faith can be grounds for blasphemy charges.”
~ 1776 Christian