Posted by: becketfund | November 18, 2008

Algeria: Upholds Punishment for Smoking During Ramadan

ALGIERS – Algeria’s highest court, the appeals court, on November 18 upheld convictions for three men caught smoking cigarettes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan but reduced their prison terms, a defense lawyer and a rights group said, the AP reported on November 18. The defense lawyer reported that the appeals court did reduce the sentences from three years to two months for “offending religion.” The men, all construction workers in an upscale Algiers neighborhood, were caught by police smoking cigarettes on a street Sept. 21, and have been detained since. No law in Algeria explicitly bars people from eating, drinking, smoking or otherwise breaking the daytime fast during Islam’s holy month. Justice Ministry officials declined to comment on the case and Algerian secularists worry authorities are placating Islamists by increasingly enforcing religious rules.

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