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Features of Constitution1

Is there a constitution? Yes
Does the constitution provide for freedom of religion? No


Constitution Year 1991
Last Amended 2006
Source Centre for Human Rights (University of Pretoria)
Translation Unofficial translation by ARDA staff from French source
Current as of May 11, 2011

Constitution Excerpts (clauses that reference religion)2


Trusting in the omnipotence of Allah, the Mauritanian people proclaims its desire to ensure the integrity of its territory, its independence and national unity and to assume its free political, economic and social development.
With its spiritual values and the radiance of its civilization, it also solemnly proclaims its attachment to Islam and to the principles of democracy as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, the African Charter on Human and Peoplesí Rights of 28 June 1981 and other international conventions which Mauritania has signed.
Whereas the liberty, equality and dignity of man can only be ensured in a society that enshrines the rule of law, mindful to create the durable conditions needed for the harmonious development of society that respects the precepts of Islam, the only source of law, and open to the demands of the modern world, the Mauritanian people proclaims, in particular, the sacred guarantee of the following rights and principles:
- the right to equality;
- the fundamental rights and freedoms of the human person;
- property rights;
- political freedoms and freedoms of association;
- economic and social rights;
- rights associated with the family, the basic unit of Islamic society.
Recognizing the need for closer ties with brotherly peoples, the Mauritanian people, Muslim, Arab and African, proclaims that they will work to achieve the unity of the Greater Maghreb, the Arab Nation of Africa and the consolidation of peace in the world.

Article 1

Mauritania is an Islamic, indivisible, democratic and social Republic.
The Republic guarantees all citizens equality before the law without regard to origin, race, sex or social condition.
Any propaganda with specific reference to racial or ethnic background is punishable by law.

Article 5

Islam is the religion of the people and the State.

Article 15

Property rights are guaranteed.
Inheritance rights are guaranteed.
Waqf goods and foundations are recognized; their uses are protected by law.
The law may limit the scope of the use of private property if the exigencies of economic and social development require.
An expropriation process cannot occur unless public order necessitates it and after fair and prior compensation.
The law establishes a legal regime for expropriation.

Article 23

The President of the Republic is the head of state. He is of the Muslim religion.

Article 29

The President of the Republic comes into newly elected office upon the expiration of the term of his predecessor.
Before taking office, the President of the Republic takes the following oath:
"I swear by Allah the One to faithfully discharge my duties in accordance with the Constitution and the law, to ensure the interest of the Mauritanian people, and to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of the country, the unity of the homeland and the integrity of the territory of the nation.
"I swear by Allah the One not to take or support, directly or indirectly, an initiative that could lead to the revision of the provisions of the Constitution on the term of the president and the renewal of his administration provided for in Articles 26 and 28 of this Constitution."
This oath is taken before the Constitutional Council, in the presence of the Bureau of the National Assembly, the Bureau of the Senate, the President of the Supreme Court and the chairman of the High Council of Islam.

Article 94

There is instituted, along with the President of the Republic, a High Council of Islam composed of five members.
The chairman and other members of the High Council of Islam are appointed by the President of the Republic.
The High Council of Islam meets at the request of the President of the Republic.
The Council forms an opinion on matters upon which it is consulted by the President of the Republic.

Article 102

Legislation and regulations that are in force in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania shall continue to apply until they have been amended in the manner prescribed by the Constitution.
Laws enacted prior to the Constitution should be amended, if necessary, to conform to constitutional rights and freedoms in a length of time not exceeding three years from the date of the enactment of this constitutional act.
If the amendments referenced in the preceding paragraph are not made on time, all individuals can bring these laws to the Constitutional Court for review of their constitutionality. The provisions declared unconstitutional cannot be enforced.
This ordinance shall be enforced as part of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.


1.  Data under the "Features of Constitution" heading are drawn from coding of the U.S. State Department's 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports conducted by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the International Religious Freedom reports. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The constitutional excerpts shown above are reproduced from the websites given in the "Source" field; the links to these websites were active as of May 2011. Where the constitutional text shown on these websites was provided in a language other than English, this text was translated to English by ARDA staff with assistance from web-based translation utilities such as Google Translate and Yahoo! Babel Fish. Constitutional text was converted to American English where applicable. Constitutional clauses were judged to contain religious content based largely on the standards used in the construction of the Religion and State Constitutions Dataset collected by Jonathan Fox. Emphases were added to the text by ARDA staff to highlight religious content in articles that also contain content that does not pertain to matters of religion. The data on this page were correct to the best of the knowledge of the ARDA as of the date listed in the "Current as of" field shown above. Please contact us at if you are aware of any incorrect information provided on this page.

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