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Sudanese activist accused of apostasy released after psychiatric examination Open in fullscreen

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Sudanese activist accused of apostasy released after psychiatric examination

Rights groups have long called for the Sudanese government to abolish laws on apostasy [Facebook]

Date of publication: 13 May, 2017

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A social media activist who was arrested on charges of apostasy, which can carry the death penalty, has been released on the grounds of being "mentally incompetent to stand trial."
A social media activist arrested on charges of apostasy has been released on the grounds of being "mentally incompetent to stand trial."

Police detained Mohammad Salih, popularly known by the nickname Baron, in the country's second city of Omdurman on Monday, for requesting the religion section of his national identification card be changed from Islam to "non-religious".

However, The New Arab has been told that Salih was released from custody on Thursday and all charges have been dropped against him. According to Sudan Tribune, a judge issued the decision to dismiss the case saying the defendant had been examined by a psychiatric and was "mentally incompetent" to stand trial.

In his last Facebook post before the arrest, the 23-year-old secular activist hinted at his future move.

"I have decided to directly and indirectly confront authorities so I can have my prevailing questions answered. Freedoms are indivisible... above all religious and ideological freedom," he said on his account before it was deleted after his arrest.

The crime of apostasy carries the death penalty in Sudan, under Article 126 of the country's criminal code, which adheres to Islamic Sharia law.

In 2014, a court in Khartoum sentenced a pregnant 27-year-old, Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, to death for apostasy and 100 lashes for adultery.

She had initially been charged with adultery for marrying a non-Muslim from South Sudan but the court later added the apostasy charge after she announced she was a Christian.

Ibrahim was born to a Muslim father, who abandoned her Christian mother, leaving her to be raised in her mother's faith. Following intense international pressure, she was released after months in prison.

Last month, a Sudanese female journalist and critic of government policies had a case filed against her on charges of apostasy.

Shamael al-Nour became a target of a radical Islamists and a section of Sudan's hardline media for criticising government public health policies.

Rights groups have long called for the Sudanese government to abolish its laws on apostasy and end its restrictions on religious freedoms, particularly those targeting Christians.

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