Article 256 of the penal code criminalizes blasphemy, and is punishable by up to seven years in prison. Article 263 further states that the production of symbols, slogans or drawings that might offend Islam will be punished with one year of prison or a fine of 1,000 riyals (about $275 USD). The state has censored sites that contain content perceived as anti-Islamic. The law also prohibits, in vague terms, publication of texts provoking social discord or religious strife. Religious law is incorporated into various offenses, including apostasy, which means that apostates can, by law, be punished with death.

History of Blasphemy & Apostasy Laws

Being on the Arabian Peninsula, Qatar has long been a country and region Islamic in character. Its initial Islamization took place during the life of the Prophet Muhammad, and it remained under the political control of explicitly Islamic entities throughout the centuries. This remained the case all the way through a brief period of Ottoman rule in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, until it became a British protectorate. Even through the protectorate, however, the region exercised a relatively high degree of autonomy until full independence in the later twentieth century.

In keeping with its legacy as a center of Islam, the current Qatari state is a religious monarchy. It had no constitution until the early twenty-first century, when one was drafted and enacted: under this document, Islam is the state religion. The current penal code, enacted in 2004, codified that hudud crimes would be met with the punishment of Islamic law (which effectively meant the codification of the death penalty for apostasy). This penal code also contains the country's current blasphemy laws, which explicitly reference Islam, its texts, and its teachings.

Cases of Persecution in Qatar
Qatar Academy chemistry teacher Dorje Gurung fired and arrested for blasphemy
Young Indian expat Syam brutalized by 100-strong mob for alleged Facebook blasphemy