The constitution defines the country as an Islamic republic and describes Islam as the only religion of the citizens and the state. Only Muslims are allowed to be citizens and converts lose citizenship.
Apostasy is a crime that can be punished by death.
Article 306 states that “every Muslim who is guilty of the crime of apostasy, whether through words or through actions of an obvious or obvious nature, is called upon to repent within three days. If the defendant does not turn back within this time, he shall be condemned to death and all his property shall be confiscated by the government.” The same article provides that if the convicted person “regrets” before execution, the Mauritanian Supreme Court may convert the death sentence into a prison sentence of between three months and two years.
On November 15, 2016, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of the blogger Mohamad Cheikh Ould Mohamad Ould Mkheytir, often known as MKheytir. MKheytir was found guilty of apostasy in December 2014 and sentenced to death. At the hearing in November for MKheytir’s case, hundreds of people protested outside the courthouse demanding his execution. The case was still before the Supreme Court at the end of the year. (U.S.St.Dept.)
In November 2015, the situation of human rights in Mauritania was assessed in the framework of the General Regular Review by the UN Human Rights Council. The government rejected 58 recommendations including the the abolition of the death penalty and the offense of “apostasy”.
In December 2014, a court in Nouadhibou, northwestern Mauritania, sentenced blogger Mohamed Mkhaïtir, who had been held in custody for nearly a year, to death for apostasy. He had criticized in a blog that religion is used to exclude certain social groups. During the first six months of his detention, he was locked up in a cell without a toilet or shower in solitary confinement. In November 2017, an appeals court changed the death penalty to two years in prison and was released. (AI)