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Fifteen Christian leaders arrested in Mauritania

With a population of around 4.9 million, Christians make up a tiny minority, only 0.2%. Many Muslims call for violence against Christians on a regular basis: "We have to kill those who preach Christianity, and these Christians have no place in Mauritania."

A prominent Christian leader and 14 others along with their families have been arrested this month, following the online broadcast of a baptism ceremony. The video, which quickly went viral, must have been leaked by a greedy member of the community, looking to gain profits from unveiling it.

Freedom of faith does not exist in Mauritania. It is illegal to leave Islam for another religion. Article 306 of the current penal code inflicts the death penalty for heresy. In case the accused shows remorse, they might receive a secondary penalty. The government claims that the arrests have been “necessary for addressing the Christian problem”. 

The incident has drawn global attention to persecuted Christian families in Mauritania. International Christian Concern is working hard to provide aid and help people understand that Christians contribute fundamental services to society. 

Christians have been arrested and prosecuted for “undermining national security by insulting Islam and threatening Mauritania’s sacred principles”. In addition, violent Islamic extremist groups, including acquaintances of al-Qaeda, pose severe danger to any Christian in the country.

The harsh restrictions of the law make it extremely difficult for Christians to meet or worship together. Arranged marriages are common, and any Christian woman may be forced to marry a Muslim man who will keep her entirely under his control. He could also divorce the woman if she is suspected of converting to Christianity. Divorced women have no way of supporting themselves. They are perceived as bringing shame on the family and are detested by the community. They are often expelled from their homes, or physically abused.

Christians who reveal their faith in any way, will be accused of heresy in a religious court, with grave consequences. Many are charged with terrorism or cyber-crime offences.


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