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Death of Algerian girl in 'faith healing' sparks outcry

The girl died after being taken to hospital in Guelma, Algeria [Getty]

Date of publication: 30 May, 2020

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A ten-year-old Algerian girl died after suffering abuse during a "faith healing" session, police said.

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Algeria

A ten-year-old girl who died in eastern Algeria while undergoing faith healing appeared to suffer "blows and burns", a prosecutor said, sparking angry reactions online after the arrest of a man.

The public prosecutor in Guelma, 500 kilometres east of the capital Algiers, announced a 28-year-old man had been arrested on Thursday after the death of the girl "who was abused during a Ruqya (faith healing) to which she was subjected in her family home".

The prosecutor did not disclose why the girl was subjected to the Ruqya, a practice often performed with the intention of treating the sick, "driving out a demon", providing protection from "the evil eye" or curing infertility.

According to the prosecutor's statement, cited by local media, the girl died after being taken to hospital in Guelma. 

"The girl's body bore signs of blows and burns," the statement said.

The public prosecutor ordered an autopsy and an investigation into the child's death, the statement said. 

While faith healing is permitted in Islam because it is performed using the word of God - through recitation of the Qur'an - many note the practice can lead to abuse, particularly of those with mental health issues. 

Algerians took to social media in fury over the death of the girl in a "torture session" at the hands of an "executioner", with many also decrying a lack of media coverage of the tragedy. 

"Are we going to pretend for a long time not to see... the 10-year-old girl tortured and killed...?" asked journalist Akram Kharief, the director of the MENA Defense website, on his Facebook page.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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