Student charged with blasphemy in Mauritania

A Mauritanian high school student was arrested and charged for submitting an exam paper that authorities deemed blasphemous towards the Prophet Mohammed, local media reported on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, the 19-year-old student was remanded in custody on charges of “disrespect and mockery of the Prophet” and using social networks “to undermine (the) holy values of Islam,” a judicial official said.

The official did not provide specific details about the content of the student’s Arabic-language religious education test, which she had submitted while attending a public school in the tourist town of Atar in the north.

In Mauritania, blasphemy against the Prophet is considered a capital offense with no chance of appeal, but there have been no executions for this crime since 1987.

The government faced criticism for not bringing the case to court sooner as the story spread on social media.

In 2019, a Mauritanian blogger, Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, was sentenced to death for blasphemy over an article he wrote criticizing the use of religion to justify discrimination, including against black Mauritanians.

After spending five years in prison, he was eventually released and left the country.

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