Algeria prosecutor seeks jail for imam who called for writer\'s execution

Friday 26/02/2016
Daoud was once attracted by Islamist ideology but turned his back on it

ALGIERS - An Algerian prosecutor on Tuesday demanded a six-month jail term for a radical Muslim preacher who called for the public execution of an award-winning author he accused of apostasy.

Abdelfatah Hamadache Ziraoui in December 2014 urged the North African country's authorities to put to death Kamel Daoud, in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

Hamadache Ziraoui accused Daoud of "apostasy" after the author and journalist criticised the relationship Muslims have with Islam during an appearance on a French television show.

The radical Sunni Salafist preacher, who campaigns against alcohol and swimwear, charged that Daoud's remarks were tantamount to "a war against Allah, his prophet, the Koran and the sacred values of Islam".

A verdict is expected on March 8.

Daoud, a columnist with the Quotidien d'Oran newspaper based in the western Algerian city of Oran where he lives, was once attracted by Islamist ideology but turned his back on it.

Last year, he won the prestigious French Prix Goncourt for a debut novel -- "The Meursault Investigation", a retelling of Albert Camus's classic "The Stranger".

In an interview last year with the Los Angeles Review of Books, Daoud said he was "confronted by an absurd world that kills in the name of the sun or Allah".

Last month, Daoud said in a letter published by the French newspaper Le Monde that he was giving up public debate and journalism, after a group of university professors accused him of "fanning the fantasies of Islamophobes".

The professors were reacting to an op-ed Daoud had published in Le Monde after crimes committed on New Year's Eve in Cologne when hundreds of women reported being sexually assaulted or robbed by a mob of mostly North African and Arab men.

In the opinion piece headlined "The Sexual Misery of the Arab World", Daoud wrote that " of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Arab world, and the Muslim world more generally, is its sick relationship with women".

"People in the West are discovering, with anxiety and fear, that sex in the Muslim world is sick, and that the disease is spreading to their own lands."