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Algeria defends Ahmadiyah sect arrests

ALGIERS: Algeria’s government has rejected accusations from rights groups that it persecuted the Ahmadiyah religious sect during a recent spate of arrests, saying those detained were targeted for breaking the law not for their beliefs.
International rights groups have expressed concern in Algeria about crackdowns and religious persecution of the Ahmadiyah, a sect also found in Pakistan and Indonesia as well as in communities in Europe but who some Sunnis accuse of apostasy.
Algeria’s Minister of Religious Affairs Mohammed Aissa told diplomats and reporters this week that any arrests in Algeria’s Ahmadiyah community were for individual crimes and not a crackdown on their religious community.
His comments came after some Algerian political leaders had said there was no place for the Ahmadiyah in Algeria, where most people are Sunni Muslims. In the past, officials have suggested the community was involved in illegal proselytizing.
“All those Ahmadiyah individuals’ activities in our country were illegal, we are not targeting the Ahmadiyah, but rather individuals,” Aissa said at a conference this week.
Those arrested have been investigated for offenses including unauthorized fundraising and the illicit use of private homes to conduct unauthorized secret meetings.

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