The constitution defines the country as an Islamic republic and designates Islam as the sole religion of the citizenry and state. Only Muslims may be citizens. On July 29, Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, a blogger held by the government in administrative detention after being sentenced to death for apostasy in 2014, was released and departed the country; at year’s end, he was in France, where he was given temporary domicile while his application for asylum was considered. The Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Traditional Education (MIATE) continued to collaborate with independent Muslim religious groups as well as with foreign partners to combat extremism, radicalization, and terrorism, primarily through workshops throughout the country. On September 26, the spiritual leader of the principal Islamist political party Tawassoul, Cheikh Mohamed Hacen Ould Deddew, met with the new minister of Islamic affairs; some observers said the meeting could signal the possible reopening of a religious training center run by Deddew that the government closed in 2018.
An international Protestant community, which conducted services for several years on the grounds of the Catholic Church, began holding services at a newly consecrated, stand-alone church in Nouakchott in December.
U.S. embassy officials raised apostasy, blasphemy, and other religious freedom issues with authorities on multiple occasions, and the Ambassador urged authorities to release blogger Mkheitir. Embassy representatives, including the Ambassador, discussed religious tolerance with senior government officials, including both the outgoing and incoming minister of Islamic affairs. The Ambassador and embassy officials hosted two iftars, during which they discussed religious tolerance with government officials and religious and civil society leaders. The Ambassador and other embassy staff also met with senior members of the Tawassoul Party to discuss political and social issues, including religious freedom.