By Joseph C. DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent with BosNewsLife Africa Service
ALGIERS, ALGERIA (BosNewsLife)– An Algerian court has acquitted two Christians of breaking the Ramadan fast despite the prosecution’s demand that they be punished for “insulting Islam,” BosNewsLife learned Sunday, October 16.
In August, authorities detained workers Salem Fellak and Hocine Hocini for eating lunch during Ramadam, an Muslim month of fasting, on a private construction site in Ain El-Hammam of Tizi Ouzou province. Police took them into custody after discovering they were Christians, and then accused them of insulting Islam, the two Christians said in a statement .
“I do not apologize for anything, and I regret nothing,” said Fellak. “I have the right to not fast. I am a Christian, and until found guilty, the Algerian constitution guarantees respect for individual freedoms.”
After their arrest, Hocini and Fellak were reportedly interrogated for two hours and then taken to court where a state prosecutor continued to question them . When the men again identified themselves as Christians, the prosecutor allegedly replied that Algeria was an Islamic state that had no room for Christians.
However, a judge in Ain El Hamman has now dismissed saying “no article provided for a legal pursuit” against the two Christians.
Algerian church leaders have expressed concerns that the trial was the latest in an effort by the government to put pressure on its Christian minority.
“I think they don’t want to do anything openly,” said a leader, who requested anonymity, in published rematks. “So they are using opportunities they can find, like not giving authorization to build the church in Tizi Ouzou, (and the men) not fasting during Ramadan.”