Kuwait: MP Warns Over Granting Citizenship To Non-Muslims

A proposal to amend the Citizenship Law in Kuwait was passed by the parliament’s Legal and Legislative Committee on Tuesday. A war of words has erupted over a proposal to amend Kuwait’s Citizenship law that restricts citizenship to Muslims only.

Parliament must first debate the proposal, endorse it and then it goes to the government for final approval. Conservatives in the country are vehemently opposing such an amended which they claim threatens Kuwait’s ‘Islamic’ identity.

One Islamist MP threated to bring down the government if it allows such a motion to pass.

“We cannot accept any government that approves such amendments, and we will use all constitutional means to protect our Islamic identity and society,” Mohammad Al Hayef, an Islamist lawmaker warned claiming the amendment would go against Shariah law.

He warned that such a move would threaten Kuwait’s demography and Islamic identity.

Ahmad Al Fadhl a liberal lawmaker who on Tuesday warmly supported the committee’s decision rejected Al Hayef’s warning and stressed that not granting the Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims or the revocation of their citizenship is contrary to the constitution and affects Kuwait’s reputation.

“The proposal to naturalise non-Muslims was not a priority, but it was in the queue and its turn came up. We are a civil state governed by the constitution and the law, not fatwas,” he said.

Al Fadhl promised more laws related to promoting freedoms were in the pipeline. “If you do not like what the Legislative Committee decided, you can bang your head against any of the numerous walls inside the parliament,” Al Fadhl said in comments directed to Al Hayef.

Kuwait’s Citizenship Law stipulates under Item 5 of Article 4 that the Kuwaiti nationality may be granted by decree upon the recommendation of the Minister of Interior to any person who is an original Muslim by birth, or that he has converted to Islam according to the prescribed rules and procedures. It also stipulates that a period of at least five years has passed since he embraced Islam before the grant of naturalisation.

The Muslim-only restriction was introduced in 1981 by MPs Ahmad Al Saadoon, Mohammad Al Marshad and Mohammad Al Rasheed.

The overwhelming majority of Kuwaiti citizens are Muslims. Around 250 Kuwaitis are Christians who were granted the citizenship before the article restricting naturalisation to Muslims was introduced. They are mainly from Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine.

Source Credit: Gulf News

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