Mauritanian blogger freed after five years’ imprisonment for apostasy

1 August, 2019

An anti-slavery blogger, Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’kheitir, who was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2014, has been released from incarceration and has left Mauriatania where his life would continue to be at risk from religious figures who have called for his execution. 

Humanists UK called for M’kheitir’s release in an intervention at the United Nations Human Rights Council in March, and Humanists International has campaigned tirelessly for his release and to abolish the use of the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy in Mauritania. 

Mr M’kheitir was sentenced to death after a one-day trial in 2014 in relation to an article he authored which discussed how Islamic scripture was being used to justify caste discrimination and caste-based servitude in Mauritania. During an appeal against his conviction in 2016, thousands of Islamist protesters gathered at the court demanding his execution. 

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are pleased that after five years of incarceration, an unfair trial, and death threats, Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’kheitir has finally been released and has left the country which had so persecuted him. His case illustrates the injustice and harm caused by blasphemy and apostasy laws which prevent even the most reasoned discussions on the possible negative impacts of certain religious beliefs on society. It is imperative that we continue to campaign for the abolition of these laws both internationally and where they remain on the statue books at home.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

Humanists UK is a founding member of the End Blasphemy Laws coalition and this year made several interventions at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling on states to abolish blasphemy laws.

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Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.