Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir
Mohamed Ould Mkhaitir or Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir (Arabic: محمد الشيخ ولد امخيطير )(1985 – ) is a Mauritanian blogger and political prisoner. He was sentenced to death after he wrote an article about discrimination and the caste system in Mauritania.
Mohamed is an engineer from the northern industrial city of Nouadhibou. He belongs to the Moulamines, or blacksmith group, the lowest social group in Mauritania. He worked for SAMMA, a company partly owned by the Canadian mining corporation Kinross.
Anti-slavery article[change | change source]
Mohemed wrote an article called "Religion, religiosity and craftsmen," that criticized Mauritania's caste system. The article was published on the news website Aqlame on December 31, 2013. Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981, but activists say it is still very common and that many Mauritanians are born into slavery. Mauritania passed a new anti-slavery law in 2015 that makes slavery a "crime against humanity".
Court cases[change | change source]
On January 2, 2014, Mohamed was arrested in his home in the city of Nouadhibou. He was charged with apostasy under Article 306 of the Mauritanian criminal code, and sentenced to death. There were national demonstrations against Mohamed, and there was a fatwa to kill him. His family denounced him. His lawyers dropped him and he could not get another lawyer, only the lawyers assigned by the court. The trial started a day late because of a fight in the courtroom. The prosecuting lawyer said he was a member of the caste that the blogger criticized in his article. Mohamed belongs to a lower social class.
According to Abdel Nasser Beibe, a Mauritanian activist and representative of the Arab Thinking Foundation, there are many people who wrote about the same things as Mohamed, but they belong to the white community, who are the majority of the people, and no one asks for their death. Their tribes and their families defend them against any attack. But Mohamed comes from the "blacksmith" minority, and are very marginalized. After the article, his family and caste had to deny him, and his parents had to go into exile in France.
Mekfoula Brahim, activist and president of For a Green and Democratic Mauritania says that Mohamed was a victim of a very hard prison sentence because he belongs to a powerless and hated group. Mekfoula says Muhamed's future is being controlled by street fanatics, who receive orders from extremist clerics influenced by radicals who have returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, who press them to execute the boy.
The president of Mauritania, Abdel Aziz spoke to the country in January 2014, saying Mauritanian is an Islamic state and the death penalty could be used against Mohamed. Abdel Aziz ususally wears a business suit and tie in public, and when he speaks with Western allies, like the United States and France. but when he spoke to the nation about Momhamed Ould Mkhaitir, he wore a white Salafi robe and turban.
An appeal court heard the case on April 1, 2016, under tight security. The court upheld the verdict, but sent the case back to Mauritania's supreme court. On Jan. 31, 2017, Mauritania’s supreme court heard the case, and returned it to the appeal court. There were organized demonstrations in Nouadhibou, Aleg, and Rosso.
References[change | change source]
- "Mauritania condemns man to death for 'insulting the prophet'". 25 December 2016 – via Reuters.
- "Mauritanian Blogger's Death Sentence Upheld". 25 April 2016.
- Reuters (25 December 2014). "Death Sentence in Mauritania for Islam 'Insult'" – via NYTimes.com.
- "Religion, Race, and Repression in Mauritania: The Ould Mkhaitir Apostasy Affair".
- "#FreeThePress: Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed - PressUncuffed - Committee to Protect Journalists".
- "Mauritanian blogger's death sentence upheld". 22 April 2016 – via www.bbc.com.
- "توضيح من صحيفة "أقلام" - أقــــلام حرة".
- "Mauritanian appeals court upholds death sentence for blogger - Committee to Protect Journalists".
- "In Mauritania, blogger sentenced to death for apostasy - Committee to Protect Journalists".
- "Suspenden la pena de muerte de un bloguero mauritano que criticó la "malinterpretación" del Islam".
- "Netizen Report: Egyptian NGOs Face Rampant Phishing Attacks, Researchers Say". 3 February 2017 – via Slate.
- "مطالب في موريتانيا بإعدام كاتب بتهمة "الإساءة للرسول"". CNN Arabic. 17 November 2016.