MAURITANIA: FIRST APOSTASY DEATH SENTENCE
December 24, 2014: A 30-year-old Muslim man, Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, became the first person to be sentenced to death for apostasy in Mauritania since independence in 1960.
According to the judgment, Mohamed was convicted of apostasy ‚Äúfor speaking lightly of the Prophet Mohammed‚ÄĚ in an article published on several Mauritanian websites in which he challenged some the decisions taken by Islam's prophet and his companions during the holy wars.
The defendant, who has been detained since 2 January 2014, fainted when the ruling was read out in a court in Nouadhibou in the northwest of the country, a judicial source told AFP. He was revived and taken to prison, the source added.
Mohamed pleaded not guilty to the charge, explaining that it was ‚Äúnot his intention to harm the prophet.‚ÄĚ His lawyer asked for leniency as he said his client was repentant but the judge agreed to the prosecutor's request for the death penalty.
The verdict was met with shouts of joy from the gallery, while on the streets there were jubilant scenes as cars sounded their horns.
Sharia law is in effect in Mauritania but the enforcement of strict punishments ‚Äď such as floggings ‚Äď has been rare since the 1980s. Death sentences were mainly reserved for murder and acts of terrorism. The last executions took place in 1987, when three armed forces officers sentenced to death by the State Security Chamber for plotting to overthrow the regime were put to death. (Sources: HOC and skynews.com.au, 25/12/2014)