Mauritania (MNN) — There will no longer be mercy for those convicted of apostasy in Mauritania.
Previously, any Mauritanian who committed blasphemy or left the Muslim faith had three days to repent before they were punished. Penalties included prison terms or a death sentence.
However, a new law was passed on April 27th by the Mauritanian National Assembly. Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs explains, “This new law sort of becomes more stringent — that three days to repent disappears. Everyone is going to be punished. Even if you do repent, you are still going to be punished. And in the case of blasphemous remarks or sacrilegious acts, according to the law, the death penalty is now mandatory.
“The other thing that was very fascinating to me is, in explaining this change in the law, the Minister of Defense said that ‘what we had before was actually in contradiction with official Sharia code, the official Sharia law. We want to be as close to the real Sharia law as possible, so we needed to eliminate that discrepancy between the two.’”
Mauritania is a Muslim nation and while no Christian has been given a death sentence yet, this law is especially concerning for new converts. A mandatory death sentence for apostasy could cause someone who is considering following Jesus to think twice.
Even though the CIA World Factbook reports that Mauritania is officially 100 percent Muslim, there is an underground Church presence. The Holy Spirit cannot be stopped at the Mauritania borders, and Mauritanian believers are living out their faith in secret. One of their biggest needs is fellowship.
“What often happens to someone who comes to faith in Christ is they are cut off. They are cut off from their Muslim friends. They are cut off even from their families. So having fellowship with other believers, having a way to be encouraged and to be discipled, those are challenging things in a country where there are so few Christians.”
There are a few things you can do to stand with our Christian brothers and sisters in Mauritania today.
First, Nettleton says, “People can call the Mauritania representatives in their home country and say, ‘We would like you to consider not having this apostasy law.’ The chances of that being effective are probably pretty slim, but it does send a message that the rest of the world is paying attention.”
And especially, you can pray. “Let’s pray that God’s Spirit will move. The Bible talks about God directing the hearts of kings, God directing governments, and so let’s pray that there is a change of heart and that Mauritanians would be free to choose their own religious path.”
(Header photo courtesy of The Voice of the Martyrs)