By Joseph C. DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent with BosNewsLife Africa Service
AIN EL HAMMAN, ALGERIA (BosNewsLife)– Two Christian construction workers are on trial in Algeria for not observing the Muslim fast of Ramadan, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, September 22.
Hocine Hocini and Fellak Salem appeared before the provincial court in Ain El Hammam district for eating at noon on a private construction site during the month of Ramadan.
The Algerians were arrested by police officers who enforced the legal provisions that protect Islamic religious regulations from being disobeyed; therefore, these Christians must answer for their “illegal” sacrilegious act.
“I am optimistic,” said Hocini, speaking about the August 13 hearing . “I have no regrets, I am a Christian. We are innocent, we have not hurt anyone. We are Christians and we did not eat in a public place.”
“Algeria has ratified international conventions on freedom of worship,” added Ait Larbi, one of the defense lawyers for the two Algerians. “It is an outright violation of the constitution.”
Lawyers for the two Christians have demanded their clients’ acquittal on the grounds that existing Algerian laws do not prohibit citizens from breaking the Ramadan fast.
There is concern among Christians in Algeria that the country will be influenced by countries such as Afghanistan, an Islamic state where people can reportedly still be stoned for eating breakfast during the daylight hours of Ramadan.