Rachid Seighir

Name: Rachid Mohamed Seighir

Country/Area of Origin: Algeria

Background: Rachid Seighir is an Algerian pastor and the owner of a bookstore

Reason for Arrest:

In June 2021, Algerian authorities shuttered Oran city’s Oratoire Church and a local Christian bookstore, both of which were owned and managed by Pastor Rachid Seighir. Less than a week following the closures, Pastor Seighir and bookstore salesman Nouh Hamini were arrested, swiftly charged with “distributing publications or any other propaganda undermining the faith of a Muslim”, and sentenced to two years in prison each accompanied by a fine of 500,000 dinars [approximately USD $3,732]. On appeal, Seighir and Hamini were granted a suspended sentence of one year in prison each and a fine of 200,000 dinars [approximately USD $1,493]. It is believed, however, that the recent charges leveraged against Pastor Seighir were an act of retaliation for a situation in which he faced similar charges and was acquitted in 2008.

Latest Updates:

  • 28 September 2021: Pastor Seighir had sought to appeal for a complete acquittal after he received a suspended sentence; however, the regional court of appeals upheld his suspended sentence. Pastor Seighir has assured that he will continue to appeal his conviction despite this setback.
  • 22 August 2021: Jubilee Campaign raised Pastor Seighir’s case in our submission to the UN Human Rights Council 48th Session Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
  • 12 July 2021: A group of United States Senators – Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) submitted a joint letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken in which they “reiterate our deep concern with the treatment of religious minority groups in Algeria” and urge the State Department to “continue to promote a foreign policy that advances religious freedom across the globe and take serious action against countries engaging in or tolerating severe violations of religious freedom”.
  • 23 June 2021: USCIRF released a public statement on the charges against Pastor Rachid Seighir as well as the sentencing of another Algerian prisoner of conscience, Hamid Soudad:
    • “Recent decisions by Algerian courts to sentence Christians accused of blasphemy and proselytizing to multi-year prison sentences and to seal protestant churches that have been forcibly closed demonstrates the country is headed in the wrong direction.” – USCIRF Chair Nadine Maenza
    • “These court decisions are blatant attempts to deny Algerian Christians their right to freedom of religion and belief. We encourage U.S. government officials to attend the appeals for these rulings to demonstrate our firm commitment to religious freedom of Christians and all religious minorities in Algeria.” – USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie

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