Mauritania releases new ‘apostasy’ draft law

Mauritania has proposed a new ‘Apostasy’ draft law that would make death penalty mandatory for the crime of “insulting” or “mocking” God, the Quran or the Prophet Muhammad. The approved draft legislation would eliminate the possibility under the current law, of substituting a prison term for death penalty if the offender repents promptly. Mauritania’s current penal code, in article 306, imposes the death penalty for apostasy but allows for a lighter penalty if the defendant repents. Mauritania has moved to strengthen a law criminalising apostasy and blasphemy, after a court in the West African nation ordered the release of a local blogger who faced the death penalty for allegedly criticising the Prophet Muhammad. An amendment to Article 306 of the country’s penal code will now see the death penalty applied to “every Muslim, man or woman, who ridicules or insults Allah”, his messenger, his teachings, or any of his prophets, “even if [the accused] repents”. Showing repentance will no longer prevent the death penalty from being applied for blasphemy and apostasy.