Algerian Government has continued to crackdown on members of the minority Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. The Ahmadiyya Community which has less than 3,000 members in the country has expressed concern over the religiously motivated arrests.
On Friday, November 25th Algerian security forces raided a house in the coastal town of Béni Saf and arrested six Ahmadis while they were performing Friday Prayers. The town of Beni Saf is located in the northern province of Aïn Témouchent, around 300 miles to the west of capital Algiers.
Security Personnel also seized prayer mats, books, and other documents related to the Ahmadiyya beliefs as evidence. The arrested were taken to Beni Saf court on November 27th where they were given a trial date of December 11th.
Similarly, In a separate raid in October, Twenty Ahmadis were arrested while they were offering Friday prayers in the northeastern city of Skikda. In November, Skikda’s circuit court sentenced the Imam of Ahmadiyya community to 8 months in prison and fined him 300,000 Algerian Dinars (USD 2,800). While the other arrested individuals were sentenced 3 months in prison and fined 30,000 Algerian Dinars (USD 270).
In 2010, Algeria’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, headed by Bouabdellah Ghlamallah denied a request from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to build the community’s first mosque in Algeria. However, the major crackdown on Ahmadis began in June, when the Research Division of the National Police (SRGN) shut down the community’s main headquarters in the city of Bilda and arrested six people.
Soon after the security forces also arrested the National President of Ahmadiyya Community in Algeria from Bou-Ismail (Tipasa) and two other individuals from the capital Algiers. The nine individuals were charged with endangering state security and undermining social integrity.
Critics have said that the arrests are religiously motivated as Algeria’s Sunni Muslims majority considers the Ahmadiyya beliefs to be heretic. Critics have also said that biased media reporting by outlets like Echorouk News and Ennahar TV are “deliberately and recklessly misrepresenting the Ahmadi beliefs” in order to stir hatred against Ahmadis in Algeria.