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Morning Star News Algeria Correspondent

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria, March 4, 2021 (Morning Star News) – A court in Algeria has convicted and sentenced in absentia a pastor and another Christian to two years in prison and a heavy fine, accusing them of “shaking the faith” of Muslims with Christian literature at their bookstore, sources said.

Pastor Rachid Seighir and Nouh Hamimi learned by a written notification slipped under the door of their church building in Oran, a coastal city 268 miles west of Algiers, that they had been sentenced to prison and fined 500,000 Algerian dinars (US$3,745).

The pastor was the manager of the now-closed bookstore, where Hamimi worked as a salesman. The judgment reads that they are condemned for “distributing publications or any other propaganda undermining the faith of a Muslim.”

Pastor Seighir of Oratoire Church in Oran said the conviction was mere retaliation in a conflict over the bookstore going back to 2008, when he was convicted of the same charges and acquitted on appeal. The governor of Oran ordered the bookshop closed in 2017, but in April 2018, a court ruled the closure order was invalid due to procedural problems – though authorities continued to keep the bookshop closed, he said.

“This case is the logical continuation of the three judgments in our case that we have won against the wali [governor] of Oran,” Pastor Seighir told Morning Star News. “On April 12, 2018, the order was issued by judgment for the closure ordered by the wali to be effectively canceled. Unfortunately, the wali resisted and refused to comply.”

The church on May 26, 2019 won another legal fight to unseal the bookstore, but the governor again refused to obey the order, and it remained closed, he said.

“Continuing our fight, we asked the administrative court to intervene,” Pastor Seighir said. “Here too we were successful, and the judgment arrived on October 13, 2019 ordering the removal of the seals and the reopening of the bookstore, with financial compensation of 500,000 dinars [US$3,745]. Unfortunately, the wali did not comply with the order of justice, and the bookstore remained closed. Four years of closure.”

The Christians have appealed their conviction and sentence, he said.

Algeria’s 2006 law regulating non-Muslim worship, known as Law 03/06, criminalizes the publishing or distributing of any materials “which aim to undermine the faith of a Muslim.” Punishment can range from two to five years in prison and fines of 500,000 to 1 million Algerian dinars (US$3,745 to US$7,490).

Islam is the state religion in the 99-percent Muslim country. Since 2000, thousands of Algerian Muslims have put their faith in Christ. Algerian officials estimate the number of Christians at 50,000, but others say it could be twice that number.

The verdict against Pastor Seighir and Hamimi comes less than two months after a Christian who had received and reposted a cartoon of the prophet of Islam on his Facebook account three years ago was sentenced to five years in prison and fined 100,000 dinars (US$750) under an Algerian law against insulting Muhammad.

Algeria ranked 24th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2021 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, up from 42nd place in 2018.

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Article originally published by Morning Star News. Used with permission.

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A survey from a political science research project found that 29 percent of people welcome the idea of dividing the U.S. into regions.

The “Bright Line Watch” poll asked whether people supported possibly dividing the country into like-minded regions.

"Secession is a genuinely radical proposition,” researchers wrote.

"Until recently, we would have regarded it as too marginal to include in a survey," the researchers said. "But state legislators in Mississippi and Texas and state GOP leaders in Texas and Wyoming have openly advocated secession in recent months."

According to the survey, 35 percent of Republicans said they supported the possibility, while 21 percent of Democrats also agreed and finally, 37 percent of Independents also said they would support the change.

The support for a divide in the country seems to stem mostly from the 2020 presidential election and the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.

Of Republicans surveyed in the poll, 22 percent said they believed in the integrity of the 2020 election results.

“In a democracy people basically have to trust that the rules are fair and that if their party or their team loses, the stakes of that loss won’t be intolerable, that in the future they’ll be able to contest an election again, and that they’ll have a chance of winning. That keeps everyone committed to democracy and to playing by the rules,” said Bright Line Watch co-founder Gretchen Helmke, of the University of Rochester. “Once you break that faith—that elections actually determine who the winner is—people’s allegiance to democracy wanes.”

The poll also showed that both Republican and Democratic voters are in favor of a new COVID-19 relief bill.

Researchers asked how Americans view a hypothetical politician who supported $500 billion in relief as compared to a second hypothetical politician who was against the bill.

Republican voters supported the politician with the relief proposal by 11 points. That number was 12 points for Independents and 18 points for Democrats.

“We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans in Congress at times compete to provide more generous offers of aid and assistance. The public seems to largely agree that the government should provide more help given the economic circumstances Americans currently face,” says Bright Line Watch co-founder Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College in a university release.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/natasaadzic

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking Catholics to choose the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine because of its reported use of aborted fetal cells in production and testing.

"The Archdiocese of New Orleans, in light of guidance from the Vatican, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and The National Catholic Bioethics Center affirm that though there was some lab testing that utilized the abortion-derived cell line, the two vaccines currently available from Pfizer and Moderna do not rely on cell lines from abortions in the manufacturing process and therefore can be morally acceptable for Catholics as the connection to abortion is extremely remote," a statement from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was recommended for Emergency Use last Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Over the weekend, the FDA approved the vaccine to begin immunizations.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a one-dose immunization.

This week, the company announced it was planning on shipping enough doses for 20 million Americans to be vaccinated by the end of the month. By mid-2021, the company said it is aiming to have delivered 100 million doses.

In a chart of vaccine candidates, the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows which vaccine candidates used abortion-derived cell lines in the design, development, production or testing of the vaccine. The Charlotte Lozier Institute is the research branch of the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List.

In December, bishops from Colorado’s three Roman Catholic dioceses issued a statement asking Catholics to not receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The vaccine has not been approved by the FDA yet.

"Vaccines such as AstraZeneca-Oxford use aborted fetal lines in design, development, production, and testing, and therefore are not a morally valid option because better options are available," the bishops wrote in a letter.

Photo courtesy: Pexels/Cottonbro

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.