TIZI-OUZOU, Algeria, January 9, 2019 – A 32-year-old convert in Algeria has not seen much of his two young daughters since his wife divorced him and charged him with undermining Islam more than two years ago.
Ahmed Beghal (name changed for security reasons) has legal rights to visit his daughters, ages 4 and 6, but his wife’s family keeps them away from him. They began blocking him from seeing his daughters, and pressuring his wife to divorce him, when the Algerian police declined to arrest him in 2017, he said.
“They took my two daughters to prevent me from seeing them – whenever I asked to see my daughters in accordance with the rights granted by the judge, my wife’s brothers created impediments and threatened me,” Beghal told Morning Star News. “This happened to me several times.”
His wife had agreed to become a Christian three months after he converted in 2013. Of all the things he has withstood since then – death threats, job loss, criminal charges and a night in jail – his wife turning against him pains him most, he said.
He had long had doubts about Islam when, in his early 20s, he came across a Christian station with programming geared toward Muslims. Its critiques of Islam confirmed his doubts, he said, and he called the telephone number of the station’s Algeria contact, which put him in touch with a pastor in Algiers.
From his home in Ain-Soltane village, in Ain-Defla Province southwest of Algiers, he went to meet the pastor in the capital city and put his faith in Christ.
It was April 2013. Seven months later, as his wife had noted both a positive change in him and his attachment to the Christian TV program, he informed her that he had become a Christian. She too became increasingly interested in the programming, and three months later she committed her life to Christ as well, he said.
They occasionally attended worship services at the pastor’s church in Algiers together, secretly. Problems began only after they were baptized the summer of 2015 in the coastal city of Tipaza.
Beghal’s parents and siblings seized all his possessions, including a profitable poultry business on his family’s land that he was running.