Published: 09:45 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 30 January 2014
Christian convert in Algeria loses wife, faces death threats for leaving Islam
Country/Region: Middle East and North Africa, Africa, Algeria
A Christian convert in Algeria is experiencing the high cost of following Christ in a strongly Islamic culture: his Muslim wife has left him, taking their seven-year-old daughter, and he has been threatened with death for apostasy.
|Ali Touahir is from the northern Algerian city of Tizi Ouzou
Magharebia / CC BY 2.0
Ali Touahir (52) from Tizi Ouzou gave his life to Christ in 2012. A Christian friend had introduced him to the Gospel, and he subsequently attended church and read the New Testament. He was baptised on 29 December 2012.
His wife, Makhtour Wahiba, was strongly opposed to his new faith, and in June 2013 she left him, taking their daughter Imane with her. Makhtour has refused to allow Ali to see the seven-year-old.
He said he felt betrayed by his wife and also her brothers, who persuaded Makhtour to seek a divorce through the courts; one of them openly threatened to kill him for leaving Islam (apostasy).
The case has now come before a judge. In court documents, Makhtour’s lawyer wrote:
It is not possible that my client still remain under the same roof with a man who has renounced his religion, as he became apostate; and we are not ignorant of the punishment that is due an apostate under sharia [death].
Algeria is a strongly Islamic country; its population is over 99% Muslim. But sharia law is not enforced, and it is not illegal to change religion. Evangelism by non-Muslims is however a criminal offence, punishable with a fine and up to five years’ imprisonment.
At a court hearing on 22 January for the purpose of trying to reconcile the couple, who married in 1997, the judge suggested Ali renounce his Christian faith. But he refused, stating:
If there is a change, it would be in my heart, which neither you nor my wife can see or understand. My faith in God is personal; this is a matter between me and God alone.
The judge did however support Ali’s right to see his daughter. Makhtour said that Imane is Muslim and she does not want Ali to “poison her with his Christian ideas”. But the judge said that if Makhtour continued to refuse access, she would be forced by law to give it.
There has been a great work of the Holy Spirit over the last 25 years in Algeria with thousands of Muslims turning to Christ. There are no official records of the number of Christians, but it is thought there are now at least 50,000 to 60,000. Christian activity is severely restricted.
Source: Morning Star News