Jan 6, 2021 | Freedom of Religion and Belief

Walid Kechida, 25, was sentenced to three years in jail and fined 500,000 dinars (3,075 EUR) on 4 January for satirical social media posts allegedly mocking the government and religion.

According to Kaci Tansaout from the CNLD prisoners’ rights group, he was accused of insulting Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 75, and “offending the precepts” of Islam in online posts.

His lawyers said they would appeal the decision.

Kechida has already spent eight months in detention awaiting trial.

On 1 January, the office of the President announced that he had signed into law the country’s new constitution, months after the document was approved following a referendum that saw a record low voter turnout. The document received scant support, with less than 15 percent of the population voting in its favour during the November vote. This referendum was overshadowed by the novel coronavirus pandemic and followed calls for a boycott.

The new constitution was pitched as a response to the demands of the Hirak protest movement. However, it keeps Algeria’s presidential regime in control and expands the powers of the army, a central pillar of the state.

The repressive character of the regime has not changed with the new president. In mid-December, two Coptic Christians were sentenced to between two and three years in prison for allegedly mocking religion.