9 October 2008
Algeria. Prison for having food during Ramadan
Demand immediate release and revision of trial.
Six people, arrested mid- September, were sentenced to 4 years in prison and a 1000 Euros fine by the Tribunal of Biskra ( southern Algeria) on September 29, 2008. They were accused of having had food before the end of Ramzan fast.
While the Algerian Constitution garantees freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, feedom of opinion, judges used article 142 bis 2 of the Penal Code to justify the sentence; this article sets punishment for ’offending the Prophet and denigrating the dogma of Islam by writing, drawing, oral statement and any other means’.
Clearly the fundamentalists’ offensive bears fruits: the government negociates with them, the laws of the Republic are gradually replaced by the ’law of God’ - fundamentalist version -, and if judges still take the pain to subvert the legal code to justify their decision, one can fear that the time has come when this precaution will not even be necessary any more.
In order to avoid further talibanisation of Algeria and to prevent further compromise by government and justice, we call on all of you to take any action ( letter writing, but also, delegations to the Algerian Embassies, demonstrations, press articles, legal aid to those sentenced in Biskra, etc...) vis a vis Algerian authorities to demand the immediate release of the condemned people now, on the ground that this judgement conrtradicts the rights granted by the Constitution. We should also demand the revision of the trial.
SIAWI - Secularism Is A Women’s Issue
Sample letter to be adressed to Embassies:
On September 29, the Tribunal of Biskra sentenced to four years in prison six persons who had eaten before the end of Ramzan fast. This judgement is in contradiction with the Algerian Constitution which garantees freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, feedom of opinion to all citizens.
For this reason we demand the immediate release of the sentenced men and later the revision of their trial.