Said Djabelkhir was convicted of “offending the precepts of Islam” under Article 144 bis 2 of the Penal Code and sentenced to 3 years in prison, as well as a fine of 50,000 Dinars (approx. US$375). He remains free pending appeal.
Speaking to the AFP outside the court, Djabelkhir stated:
“It is a fight that must continue for freedom of conscience, for freedom of opinion and for freedom of expression. The fight for freedom of conscience is non-negotiable.”
Djabelkhir a leading expert on Sufism, and the founder of Cercle des Lumières pour la pensée libre (Circle of Enlightenment for Free Thought) an association for thinkers and academics who are advocating a progressive Islam.
Djabelkhir was first summoned to court on 25 February 2021 after a fellow academic filed a complaint that his writings on various Islamic rituals, such as Hajj and animal sacrifices on Eid, among other critiques, constituted “an attack and mockery of the authentic hadiths of the Sunna [the custom and practice] of the Prophet,” and had caused individuals psychological harm.Humanists International’s spokesperson, Kacem El Ghazzali, stated:
“Said Djabelkhir, as a researcher and a humanist, has always welcomed and promoted discussion and criticism of his ideas in a civilized and transparent manner, and he has always been a prominent advocate for freedom of speech and thought. It is greatly disappointing that the Algerian authorities have chosen to place religion higher than legitimate academic enquiry.”
Humanists International believes that Algerian academic Said Djabelkhir is being targeted for his peaceful exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, and calls on the Algerian authorities to quash his conviction.