Foudhil Bahloul

Name: Foudhil Bahloul

Country/Area of Origin: Algeria

Background: Bahloul is a 35-year-old Christian convert from a Muslim background; Bahloul’s religious conversion in 2017 prompted his wife to for divorce, acquire custody of the couple’s two children, and accuse Bahloul of “attacking Islam.” Following his conversion to Christianity, Bahloul became a social pariah and was forced to relocate his home after being subjected to harassment by his neighbors, Despite being unemployed, Bahloul continues to pay alimony to his ex-wife.

Reason for Arrest:

In mid-April 2021, authorities arrested Bahloul and three of his close friends before searching his home and seizing possessions without warrant; the items and texts that were confiscated were related to his Christian faith. Bahloul recalls that police officers questioned whether he was receiving money or donations for his faith and also forcefully inquired whether he had a bank account and received money from an individual or entity in Germany. Bahloul confirmed that while he had received some money from a German friend as he was currently jobless and struggling, he was not receiving any monetary gifts or donations due to his faith.

Without legal counsel, Bahloul had his first hearing on 30 June 2021, and he was charged with distributing Bibles in order to “spread poisonous ideas to the unemployed youth” which “destabilized their faith in Islam”. According to Algeria’s 2006 Ordinance Regulating the Practice of Non-Muslim Faiths, the court sentenced Bahloul to six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 Algerian dinars (≈ USD $730). Bahloul was additionally sentenced to another six months’ imprisonment for his reception of an ‘unauthorized donation’ in regards to his faith, despite that Bahloul confirmed the money he received from his friend was solely to support him financially during unemployment.

Latest Updates:

  • December 2021: Bahloul’s appeal was rejected and his suspended sentence was upheld
  • Bahloul’s appeal hearing was set for 27 October 2021. In regards to Bahloul’s case, Amnesty International stated the following:
    • “Algerian authorities must immediately quash Foudhil Bahloul’s conviction and drop all charges against him. He shouldn’t have been tried in the first place. This discriminatory law is being used as a weapon to repress those who do not follow Islam in an assault against their fundamental freedoms. Instead of targeting non-Islamic believers, Algerian authorities must work on protecting the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief – which includes the freedom to manifest that belief.” – Amna Guellali, Amnesty International, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa
  • International Christian Concern stated the following regarding Bahloul’s case:
    • “Bahloul’s case is one of many examples of religious discrimination from the Algerian government in recent years. The government also has arrested several members of minority religious communities under its blasphemy law, a law whose enforcement the U.S. House of Representatives and the UN Human Rights Committee have both recognized as a human rights violation. Additionally, the Algerian government continues to prevent Protestant churches throughout the country from holding worship services and often ignores requests for information and attempts to have them reopen.”