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Slimane Bouhafs
Photo: World Watch Monitor

Algerian Christians are grateful that Slimane Bouhafs, who has been imprisoned since September 2016 for blasphemy, recently received a partial pardon. Slimane's three-year sentence was reduced by 16 months on July 5th (the national day of Algeria), following a decree by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that provided clemency to several prisoners on account of good behaviour in prison. As a result of the partial pardon, Slimane only has nine months remaining to his prison sentence.

Slimane was first sentenced to five years' imprisonment on August 7th after posting information on Facebook that was considered blasphemous. (A previous report on his case is available here.) However, in October 2016, his family appealed to the president by requesting pardon for Slimane, whose health had deteriorated significantly since imprisonment. A crowd of concerned Algerians also gathered in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou to lobby on his behalf, petitioning that he be allowed access to medical treatment.

With support from human rights activists, family members have consistently pleaded for Slimane's release and condemned the arbitrary judicial process leading to his sentencing and imprisonment. They also called for a change to be made to the existing law which punishes anyone deemed to have insulted the Prophet Muhammad or "denigrated the dogma or precepts of Islam." While the presidential pardon is good news, please continue to keep Slimane and his family in your prayers, as they continue to advocate an earlier release.