Blasphemy charge in Mauritania
In Mauritania, a “high school student” has had a blasphemy charge leveled against her over something (unreported and unspecified) she had written on a “mock” school examination paper.
As the BBC reports:
The student was arrested on 18 July in the northwestern town of Atar on charges of "disrespect and mockery of the Prophet" and using social networks "to undermine (the) holy values of Islam", an official from the public prosecutor's office in the capital, Nouakchott, told the AFP news agency.
This charge comes shortly after the Mauritanian Council of Islamic Scholars’ reaffirmation that blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad be met with a death sentence. As such, the student would be eligible for trial under capital punishment, rather than the milder general blasphemy law which carries punishments of imprisonment and fines.
Iran: Women who don’t wear hijab are mentally ill
Iranian judges have recently declared three Iranian actresses who appeared in public without “proper” head coverings to be “mentally ill,” a distinction that has been met with backlash from the Iranian medical community.
The offenses themselves are serious indeed:
[Actress Asfaneh] Bayegan was given a suspended two-year prison sentence after she appeared at a film ceremony wearing a hat instead of a head scarf …
[Leila] Bolukat, 42, was earlier handed a sentence of six months imprisonment, along with a ban on professional activities for two years, on charges she had "damaged public morality and chastity" by posting images of herself without a hijab on social media …
The 44-year-old [Azadeh] Samadi … was detained after wearing a hat instead of a hijab while attending a funeral …
To judges in theocratic Iran, wearing a hat instead of a hijab is apparently only conceivable for an insane woman.
In addition to being “declared” mentally ill, these women received various other punishments, ranging from prison time to restriction of their personal autonomy.
The “heads of the Scientific Association of Psychosomatic Medicine, Scientific Association of Psychiatrists, Scientific Association of Psychotherapy, and the Psychological Association of Iran” condemned these “diagnoses” from the judicial bench in particular, calling them completely ungrounded in any kind of scientific reality.
In Britain: a “tacit” blasphemy law?
A think tank has published a report stating that recent anti-blasphemy protests that have occurred against British institutions have the potential to pose a threat to “a threat to national security” specifically due to the “failure to protect teachers and others from intimidation.”
The report cited recent incidents, including the Batley Grammar School who remains in hiding after showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad for educational purposes in class, as well as an incident of apparently accidental damaging of a Qur’an in Wakefield. It criticized the responses of schools in these situations as being too acquiescent to intimidation tactics and failing to honor the principle of freedom of expression:
Accepting a tacit anti-blasphemy law is antithetical to our democratic values whilst also a threat to national security. Schools, cinemas and publishing houses need commitments to be made to their assured safety in the face of threats and renewed and robust guidelines on how to respond to threats of anti-blasphemy action.