SHAFAQNA – A man who wrote an article challenging some of the Prophet’s decisions fainted when he was sentenced to death, but the public gallery cheeredA court in Mauritania has sentenced a Muslim man to death for “speaking lightly” of the Prophet Muhammad in the first case of its kind since the country’s independence in 1960.
Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, who has already spent almost a year in prison, fainted when the verdict was read out — but it was met with shouts of joy in the public gallery.
Mr Mohamed was accused of apostasy, or renouncing his faith, after he published an article online that challenged some of the Prophet’s decisions, and those of his companions, during a series of holy wars in the Arabian peninsular.
The article, which was published only fleetingly on Mauritanian websites, also accused the country of perpetuating “an iniquitous social order”.
Mauritania, one of the few countries in the world where slavery is still widespread, is governed by Sharia, but punishments such as floggings and amputations have been rare since the 1980s. According to Amnesty International, the last execution was in 1987.
Mr Mohamed’s article also defended citizens on the bottom rungs of society, who he described as “marginalised and discriminated against from birth”.
Eight anti-slavery activists are on trial in Nouakchott, the capital, accused of being part of an unauthorised group. Mr Mohamed’s death sentence comes months after Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian in Sudan, faced a similar fate, over claims that she had renounced Islam. Her conviction was overturned.
Local media said Mr Mohamed had told the court that it was never “his intention to harm the Prophet”.