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Mauritania 'blasphemy blogger' in jail despite serving sentence

Mkheitir is believed to be in detention in Nouakchott [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 May, 2018

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A Mauritanian blogger jailed for 'blasphemy' is still in prison despite serving his two year sentence.

A Mauritanian blogger who was jailed for two years is still languishing in detention despite serving his sentence, activists have said.

Mohammed Cheikh Ould Mkheitir was initially given the death penalty but this was downgraded to a two-year sentence after he repented.

Mkheitir should have been released in November but is still in detention despite growing calls for his release.

He was accused of criticising the Prophet Mohammed in a blog post and originally sentenced to death on December 2014.

Rassoul Ould El-Khal, a senior official in the national rights commission, said on Friday he was "still in administrative detention awaiting the end of the judicial process".

Mauritanian authorities have not commented on his fate since November. An informed source told AFP he was "being held in a secure place in Nouakchott", the Mauritanian capital. 

"This administrative detention breaches the law," the blogger's lawyer, Fatimata M'Baye said.

Around 20 NGOs have called on the government to release the blogger.

The death sentence has not been applied in Mauritania since 1987.

Mkheitir was accused of challenging decisions taken by the Prophet Mohammed and his followers during battles in the seventh century.

Mkheitir has spoken against the mistreatment of Mauritania's black population, calling it "an iniquitous social order" with an underclass that was "marginalised and discriminated against from birth".

Modern day slavery still exists, with a "slave" caste forced to work without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants, despite an official ban.

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