The constitution of Yemen declares Islam the state religion, and that Islamic law is the source of all legislation. The “blasphemy” laws prohibit “ridicule” of religion.

Article 194 of the penal code states:

“It is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 3 years, and a fine, whoever:

1. Publicly broadcasts [or communicates] views including ridicule and contempt of religion, in its beliefs, practices, or teachings.

2. Whoever publicly incites contempt for people or communities, thus disturbing public peace.”

There is conflicting evidence about whether an act of blasphemy could also be tried in a Sharia court and be subject to a death penalty as a hudud crime.

The act of “apostasy” is punishable by death. Under Yemeni law “denouncing Islam” or any blasphemy conviction may constitute evidence of “apostasy”.

While the rate of capital punishment in Yemen is very high, the government does not enforce the death penalty for apostasy in practice: the law allows those charged with apostasy three opportunities to repent, which absolves them from the death penalty. It is unclear whether a moratorium is in place or whether an “apostate” who refused to repent would face the death penalty.