Algeria: Religious Prisoner of Conscience Hamid Soudad Released Following Reduced Sentence

WASHINGTON, D.C., 21 July 2023 – Jubilee Campaign welcomes the news of the release of Hamid Soudad, Christian exMuslim and member of the Evangelical protestant church of Algeria (EPA) on July 20th 2023. The release comes following a presidential decree commuting the five-year sentence against Hamid Soudad for Algeria’s Independence Day.

Authorities have been detaining Hamid Soudad since January 2021 on charges of blasphemy. The Algerian government used a dated Facebook post from 2018 to charge and sentence Hamid Soudad. During the court process, authorities questioned Hamid Soudad on why he left Islam and whether he was a member of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA), considering his active church participation as unlawful activity.

Multiple civil society organisations have called for the release of Hamid Soudad.

Jubilee Campaign together with a multi-faith coalition of over 20 individuals and organisations submitted a letter calling for his release in August 2021 noting the arbitrary nature of his arrest. The letter also called on Algeria to repeal its anti-blasphemy laws and Ordonnance 06-03 which places restrictions on all non-Muslim worship. The UN Special procedures including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression and minorities released a communication calling on the government to release him.

Hamid Soudad’s case was also highlighted during the IRF Summit 2022 related events, with USCIRF Commissioner Fred Davies calling for his immediate release. Several UN Human Rights Council side-events have also been organised on Algeria. In July 2022, Centre Justicia filed a complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for Hamid Soudad. The UN WGAD released an official opinion in May 2023, recognising that the detention of Hamid Soudad was arbitrary, violating several of his rights; including freedom of expression and belief. They also called for reparations to be made to Hamid Soudad as a compensation for the violations.

Parliamentary attention was also brought to pressure the Algerian government to release Hamid Soudad – Senator Rubio submitted a letter specifically mentioning the case of Hamid Soudad. The UK All-Parliamentary Group on freedom of religion or belief also co-hosted an event – with Jubilee Campaign, Middle East Concern and several other civil society organisations – on the margins of the UK FoRB Ministerial event focusing on freedom to worship for all Algerians. There were renewed calls for Hamid Soudad’s release in the panel moderated by former parliamentarian and religious freedom advocate Joel Voordewind.  Most recently Jubilee Campaign also called for the release of Hamid Soudad during the urgent debate on countering religious hatred.

The Vice President of the EPA on Thursday expressed a big thank you to everyone who has raised their voice for Hamid Soudad, “thank you for all your effort God bless you all.”

While Jubilee Campaign welcomes the release, we remain deeply concerned with the continued harassment by Algerian authorities of members of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Algeria (EPA) and join the EPA’s consistent and persistent call on the Government of Algeria to immediately recognise the EPA so Algerian Christians can meet and worship in their churches openly without fear of reprisals.


The US State Department placed Algeria on the Special Watch List for engaging in severe violations of international religious freedom.

USCIRF recommended that the U.S. State Department make this designation and have been reporting with concern on the use of anti-blasphemy laws Algeria. They have also called on the National Commission for Non-Muslim Religious Groups and other relevant government officials, and insist the Algerian government deliver clear and timely responses to registration requests by non-Muslim organizations.