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Mauritania: Christian Leaders Arrested in Large-Scale Crackdown

Christians make up less than one percent of the population of Mauritania: about 11,000 people, most of whom are not native Mauritanians. 4,000 of these are Catholic, and most of the rest are Protestant. Preaching the Gospel is against the law.

“Christian Leaders Arrested in Mauritania in Large-Scale Crackdown,” International Christian Concern, December 13, 2023:

12/13/2023 Mauritania (International Christian Concern) —  A prominent Christian leader, along with 14 other Christian leaders and their families, was arrested in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania earlier this month. These leaders represent a significant portion of the nation’s small Christian community, estimated to be around 1,000 individuals.  

Mauritania’s current penal code, specifically Article 306, imposes the death penalty for apostasy, with the provision for a lesser penalty if the accused repents. The arrests were reportedly triggered by posting a video showcasing a baptism ceremony in Mauritania. The video, believed to be leaked by an insider seeking monetary gain, quickly went viral. 

The aftermath of the video’s dissemination led to disturbing incitements, with some calling for violence against Christians. Reports include statements like, “We have to kill those who preach Christianity, and these Christians have no place in Mauritania.” 

Tragically, this hostility has extended beyond the arrested individuals, affecting their families who are now facing harassment from their neighbors. The Mauritanian government finds itself in a delicate position, torn between its commitments to human rights reforms and greater religious freedom, asserting that the arrests were made to protect citizens and other radical Islamist elements. The government stands firm in its decision that the arrests are necessary for addressing the “Christian problem” in Mauritania….

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