ALERT: Prisoners of Faith Update. Release of Sheikh Ali Benhadj and Dr Abbassi Madani, Algeria

Islamic Human Rights Commission

18 July 2003

Prisoners of Faith Update: Release of Sheikh Ali Benhadj and Dr Abbassi Madani, Algeria

IHRC notes the recent release of two longstanding prisoners of faith, Dr Abbassi Madani, the leader of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and his deputy, Sheikh Ali Benhadj. IHRC had particularly campaigned for Sheikh Ali Benhadj for a number of years, a focal point of IHRC’s ‘Prisoners of Faith’ campaign.

On July 2003, the secular Algerian regime conditionally released the pair after a twelve year-long detention, which saw their human rights consistently violated.

Despite their release, Sheikh Ali Benhadj and Dr Abbassi Madani are still only partially free. Their release is subject to an array of draconian restrictions. These include a ban on their right to vote, to express support for political candidates, to publicise their views on any issue, to belong to any charity or association, or to engage in any political, religious or cultural activities. Thus, the fear is that Sheikh Ali Benhadj and Dr Abbassi Madani may be re-arrested, with reports claiming that Sheikh Ali Benhadj is preparing for his re-arrest in the near future.

IHRC will continue to campaign for the full rights of Sheikh Ali Benhadj and Dr Abbassi Madani to be re-instated, as well as those of other Muslim prisoners of faith languishing in Algeria’s prisons. We urge our volunteers to write/email to the following demanding the immediate re-instatement of Benhadj’s and Madani’s human rights and the unconditional release of all prisoners of faith in Algeria:

HE Mr Ahmad Attaf
Algerian Consulate
6 Hyde Park Gate
London SW7 5EW

Tel: 44 (0)20 7589 6885
Tel: 44 (0)20 7589 6885

Mr Jack Straw MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AA

Fax number: 01254 682213

Your MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Switchboard telephone number: 020 7219 3000


Madani and Benhadj lead the populist FIS, Algeria’s main Islamist movement, to its 1990 victory in post-independence Algeria’s first multiparty and provincial elections. In June 1991 both Madani and Benhadj were arrested by the Algerian-regime after leading a nation-wide general strike in protest against government manipulation of Algeria’s electoral laws.

Following the FIS victory in the December 1991 parliamentary elections, the military mounted a coup, plunging Algeria into a bloody decade long civil war. The enduring conflict saw an estimated 100,000 – 150,000 people lose their lives and Algeria ruled by a tyranny of secular terror, often with the active complicity of major European powers.

Whilst in jail Sheikh Ali Benhadj was subjected to psychological and physical torture and kept in solitary confinement. Dr Abbassi Madani was kept under strict house arrest.

For more information please contact us

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Tel: +44-20-8902-0888
Fax: +44-20-8902-0889

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