Members of this Muslim religious community are finding it increasingly difficult to practice their worship, facing fines and imprisonment for doing so

Algeria continues the persecution of the Ahmadi Community

photo_camera Ahmadi Community

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Spain, located in the town of Pedro Abad in Córdoba, denounces the continuing campaign of persecution against the Ahmadis in Algerian territory. 

Arbitrary arrests, fines, dismissals, demolition of religious centres, restriction of movement and serious threats are the daily life of this religious community in Algeria.

The number of Ahmadis currently awaiting trial is 292, and two are in prison, although a total of 26 have been imprisoned in the past between two and seven months. Fines range from 125 and 1870 euros, while imprisonment can range from two months to two years. With regard to freedom of movement, seven people have had their passports confiscated. 

The Ahmadis have also seen the authorities turn their religious beliefs into an obstacle in the workplace, with 15 cases of people being dismissed for being part of the community. 

A long list of charges brought against community members by the authorities includes: unlicensed fundraising, insulting the Messenger, desecration of the Koran, exercising the Imam's function without a license and distributing documents intended to undermine the faith of Muslims. 

This reformist branch of Islam was founded by Mirza Ghulam at the end of the 19th century in India and arrived in Algeria in 2007, though it was practically unknown until 2016, when the country's authorities began to persecute its members.

In Algeria, Islam is the official state religion and the Sunni-Malikh branch is the dominant one. In theory, the Constitution guarantees freedom of worship, though the state reserves approval of the construction of the place of worship and the preacher. 

In May 2016, the president of the community in the town of Biskra, Hassan Bouras, was arrested, fired from his job and placed under judicial control, following a complaint by the town's director of religious affairs. Finally, the judge sentenced him to six months in prison. This was the starting point for the persecution of this religious community in the North African country, both towards officials of the organisation and the faithful.

On 2 June 2016, the National Gendarmerie attacked a building belonging to the Ahmadiyah community and demolished it on the grounds that it had been built illegally, despite the fact that Algerian law states that the offender must first be asked to comply with the directives and that only if he refused would the building be demolished. 

On 28 August of the same year, the Ahmadi leader in Algeria, Mohamed Fali, a 44-year-old shopkeeper, was arrested, his home in the town of Ain Sefra raided and his passport confiscated by the Algerian authorities. He was charged with "collecting donations without a licence" and "denigrating Islamic dogma".  

A persecution that goes beyond borders

The persecution of the Ahmadiyya Community is by no means limited to Algerian territory. In other countries such as Saudi Arabia they are also considered heretics, arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned. 

They are also condemned to social ostracism, as in the case of Abderrahman, a 42-year-old Algerian businessman, who abandoned Salafism as he considered it an intolerant branch and switched to Ahmadism. He was denounced to the local imam who publicly accused him of apostasy and forbade the faithful from playing with Abderrahman's children and those of the Ahmadiyah Community in general. Furthermore, his sister's fiancé decided to cut off the engagement when he heard the news. 

In Pakistan the persecution is taking on a more violent facet, with multiple killings of community members taking place in recent months. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been denouncing the impunity of these crimes for months due to the passivity, if not complicity, of the authorities, who have sometimes encouraged the persecution of the Ahmadis. 

Pakistani law itself does not recognise them as "true" Muslims. The Penal Code prohibits them from calling their temples mosques, selling texts or even giving them the typical Muslim greeting. 

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