Two assailants executed an Algerian medical student in a shocking homophobic killing on Sunday, in which victim’s blood was smeared on a wall reading “He is Gay.”
Assil Belalta was murdered in his student residence at the Taleb Abderrahmane campus in Ben Aknoun, a district just outside the city of Algiers.
The 21-year-old Belalta was a third year medical student at the Ben Aknoun medical faculty. The UK LGBT news outlet PinkNews reported that “Belalta’s Facebook profile states that he is interested in men and women.” He ostensibly was bi-sexual.
On Monday, the Algerian LGBT rights group Alouen (Colors) wrote a Facebook post on Monday about Belalta’s murder.
According to a PinkNews translation of the Algerian Alouen Facebook post, the group wrote: “This institutional and state homophobia is becoming commonplace. And incitement to hatred against sexual minorities in Algeria becomes a common currency to make buzz and pour into populism. Politicians and some homophobic media are the ones really guilty of this homophobic crime that shook the university city yesterday.”
The two perpetrators followed Belalta into his room and slit his throat. The men wrote “He is Gay” in English and left the dormitory with Belalta’s car.
According to the local Algerian outlet, Dernieres Infos D’Algerie, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Tahar Hadjar went to the scene of the murder and met with students.
The British journalist Brian Whitaker wrote on his website al-bab.com that “as news of the murder spread, hundreds of students gathered outside the medical faculty to pay their respects with a minute’s silence before holding a march through the streets.Judging by comments posted on social media, there has been growing concern about lax security on campuses in Algeria, with anger directed at university authorities.”
Whitaker, an expert on LGBT rights in the Middle East continued: “Last September, during a visit to Germany, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia was asked about LGBT rights in Algeria and he replied that Algeria is a society that has its traditions, we are not caught in a universal trend of evolution... We intend to keep moving forward on the basis of our values.”
Volker Beck, a Green Party politician and lecturer at the Center for Religious Studies at Ruhr University in Bochum, told The Jerusalem Post, “Algeria is not a safe country of origin for lesbians and gays – according to the German government. Homosexuality can be punished for up to 3 years... a state with such legislation encourages anti-gay perpetrators of violence. Haters of homosexuals think they have a state license to kill.”
Beck, an expert on LGBT rights also said that “Muslim clerics, regardless of their theological assessment of homosexuality, must preach that neither the state nor the society has the right to deprive homosexuals of freedom, health, or life.” If the clerics fail to act, they share responsibility for such acts, Beck added.
Algeria – a Muslim-majority country – outlawed homosexuality in 1966 based on Sharia Law. According to Article 338 of Algerian law, “Anyone guilty of a homosexual act is punishable with imprisonment of between two months and two years, and with a fine of 500 to 2000 Algerian Dinars.”
France24 interviewed an Algerian lesbian in 2013 who covers up her sexual preference to avoid prison and familial shame. Algeria passed a law to criminalize “propaganda of homosexuality.”
The Post reported in late January that the Islamic Republic of Iran publicly hanged a 31-year-old Iranian man after he was found guilty of charges related to violations of Iran’s anti-gay laws. The clerical regime in Tehran prescribes the death penalty for same-sex relations in Iran.