- On 21 February 2017 the National President and National General Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Algeria were arrested and imprisoned. Another Ahmadi was also arrested in Shalf.
- This follows the arrest on 27 November 2016, of 20 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Algeria were convicted of offences as a result of their faith, on the grounds of collections of donations without licences and participation in a religious organisation.
- The convictions are the most recent in a series of persecutory actions following a concerted effort by the Algerian media to stigmatise and stereotype Ahmadi Muslims, and an extended campaign of arrests and persecution which began in mid-2016.
- The community continues to face harassment and threats of arrest by police.
There are over 2,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslims Community living in Algeria, and they have been there since the State’s independence. However, since May 2016, they have been subjected to media and State persecution as a result of their beliefs.
Press and Government Vilification of Ahmadi Muslims
Over 2016-17 there is an active and ongoing vilification campaign against Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Algeria. This has been supported by the Government and Ahmadis are being labelled as traitors to Algeria.
For example, an article from EnnaharOnline.com from 13 June 2016 reads: “The Imam of the Aqba mosque, Nassim Bu-aafieh says: ‘The Ahmadiyya group is dangerous to the unity of the nation and its members are psychologically ill’”.
Another newspaper headline from 29 June 2016 reads: “The Ahmadiyya Group … The Next Plague Coming to Algeria”. It goes on to say “The spread of this group is a shocking situation and is a dark scene in our religious sphere […] this is an attempt to correct the perverseness of the Ahmadiyya doctrine”.
This persecution has been started by Mohamed Issa, the Minister of Religious Affairs, who accused the Community of being a threat to the unity of Algeria. In a national broadcast, Issa promised to “hold the religious unity of Algeria, and to eradicate all forms of perversions”.
He is also reported to have promised that Algeria would arrest groups such as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He has made good on that promise.
Issa is thought to have been led by extremist clerics from Pakistan who are working to have the Community banned throughout the world. In Algeria, they are operating through Euchorouk News and Ennahar TV to spread propaganda. This propaganda has linked the Community with extremist groups that helped to start Algeria’s civil war, a totally baseless allegation.
Actions Against the Community
Members of the Community in Algeria are living in fear, and have reported property raids, indiscriminate arrests and harassment since mid-2016. In June 2016, the Community’s centre in Bilda was raided by Algerian authorities, and the workers in the Centre were arrested. The building, which was under construction, was destroyed. Members of the Community report that all of the Community’s property in the centre was seized, including the records of the Community.
Nine members of the community working in the Bilda centre were imprisoned for five days following these arrests. They have been released, but no court judgment has been issued against them.
Mass arrests of this sort have become worryingly frequent:
- In May 2016, police detained one member of the Community in Biskra;
- In June 2016, along with the raids (described above), Mohamed Fali, the President of the Community, was arrested and charged with ‘endangering State security and undermining social integrity’.
- On 15 July 2016, five members of the Community were arrested in Setif;
- On 9 September 2016, six members of the Community were arrested in Msila;
- On 30 September 2016, 18 members of the Community were arrested in Saleh Boucheour;
- Between 22-25 October 2016, four members of the Community were arrested in Algiers; and
- On 28 October 2016, two members of the Community were arrested in Annaba.
- The persecution of Ahmadi Muslims escalated further on 27 November 2016, when 20 members of the Community in Skikda were sentenced to imprisonment and fines by the Skikda Circuit Court.
- Additionally, the Community reports that Boukaf Mohamed Lamine has been imprisoned or arrested on a charge of planning to bomb a national stadium. This accusation was made against him after he distributed an information/religious leaflet regarding Wahabism in Algeria.
- Then on 21 February the National President and National General Secretary of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were arrested and imprisoned.
It is understood that the Algerian branch of the Community now faces legal action in Algeria, the purpose of which is to ban the Community on the grounds that:
- The Community is a threat to the safety and security of Algeria;
- The Community is a threat to the unity of Algeria;
- Members of the Community have been publishing religious literature without the permission of the Ministry of Religious Affairs;
- The Community has begun building a Mosque without the appropriate permissions;
- The Community is collecting money from people without legal authority.
This discrimination and denial of rights of religious freedoms of members of the Ahmadi Muslim Community is a direct breach of Algeria’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), which was ratified by Algeria in 1989.
The Algerian Constitution protects religious freedom, and does not specifically outlaw the Community. The State has been circumventing this religious freedom through its baseless charges, such as ‘membership of an unsanction association’ and ‘collecting contributions without permission’. As the allegations listed above against Mohamed Fali did not stand in court, the government have instead charged him with publishing literature without permission, and building mosques without permission.