Mauritania 'blasphemy blogger' in jail despite serving time

Mauritanian authorities have not commented on his fate since November. An informed source told AFP he was "being held in a secure place in Nouakchott," the Mauritanian capital. 

Published: 05th May 2018 12:42 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th May 2018 12:42 AM   |  A+A-

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Image used for representational purpose.


NOUAKCHOTT: A young Mauritanian blogger whose death penalty for blasphemy was downgraded to a two-year sentence that ended in November is still in detention despite growing calls for his release.

Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir was given a two-year term on November 9 after he repented for charges of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a blog post, and should have left jail because he had already served four years in jail.

He had originally been sentenced to death on December 24, 2014.

But on Friday, Rassoul Ould El-Khal, a senior official in the national rights commission, said he was "still in administrative detention awaiting the end of the judicial process."

Mauritanian authorities have not commented on his fate since November. An informed source told AFP he was "being held in a secure place in Nouakchott," the Mauritanian capital. 

"This administrative detention breaches the law," the blogger's lawyer, Fatimata M'Baye, told AFP.

Some 20 NGOs on Friday also asked the state to end the "secrecy" and guarantee the safety of the blogger, who is in his thirties.

The death sentence has not been applied in Mauritania since 1987.

Mkheitir was accused of challenging decisions taken by the Prophet Mohammed and his companions during holy wars in the seventh century.

He also attacked the mistreatment of the country's black population, blasting "an iniquitous social order" with an underclass that was "marginalised and discriminated against from birth", and to which he belongs.

Modern-day slavery in Mauritania, under a hereditary system of servitude, forces members of the "slave" caste to work without pay as

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  • Peter Buckley

    There is much support in the Qur’an and Sunnah for the death penalty for blasphemy. It can arguably be found in this verse: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment.” (5:33) Also: “Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment” (33:57) And: “If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack your religion, you may fight the leaders of paganism – you are no longer bound by your covenant with them – that they may refrain” (9:12). There is more in the hadith. In one, Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama, answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369) “A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud 38.4349)
    1 year ago reply
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