Tag Archives: Kuwait

Hijab Or Women Rights In Kuwait?

The issue of wearing or not wearing the hijab or niqab continues to excite the interest of those both within and without Muslim nations. There are two unveiled MPs in the National Assembly of Kuwait and they are being pressured to wear a hijab when attending sessions of the lelgislature. MP Aseel Al-Awadhi told a seminar group “the issue before us today is not about the hijab–rather it challenges the way we live.” The women are reacting to an edict from the Fatwa Department which said the wearing of a hijab is compulsory for all women including those who are members of the National Assembly.

Female MPs charge that Islamist extreme groups are attempting to alter the laws and culture of Kuwait by imposing the requirement that all women wear the hijab. MP Rola Dashti said the edict was “nothing but an attack on the principles of the modern Kuwaiti way of living” and, although others had a right to express their views, “they cannot enforce restrictions.”

Sounds like a storm in a hijab to me.

Islamists Lose In Kuwait!

Fear of Islam and terrorists has been a staple of the right wing American media since 9/11 and the attempt to portray those of Muslim faith as synonymous with violence has become part of thinking in too many places in the world. The reality of Islam is far from the portrait painted by Fox News and people like Rush Limbaugh. The recent elections in Kuwait revealed a dramatic drop in power for Islamists in Parliament while women won four seats for the first time in history. This election comes a month after Indonesian voters witnessed a drop in votes for fundamentalists of over 10 percentage points.

It would be surprising if American conservatives ever told the truth about the vast majority of Muslims who oppose violence and hatred. The next step in moving away from hysteria is for Israel to reach out to moderate Muslims and agree to an independent Palestinian state. This will set the course of history moving in new directions within the Middle East.

Kuwait Women Work For Equality

In honor of International Day, Kuwait women examined the current state of their position in their nation. Kuwait is much more open and liberal towards women than certain Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, but vestiges of the less than equal status of women in a Muslim society are still evident. Dr. Assel Alawadhi, a professor at Kuwait University, noted that it was just recently than women began to get involved in the political affairs of her nation and there are a few encouraging signs of progress. However, she expressed disappointment that at educational institutions the segregation of men and women continues. A speaker at the meeting noted that female athletes in Kuwait operate under severe restrictions since the idea of women participating in sports is relatively new.

A major issue discussed at the conference was the desirability of instituting quotas for women in the legislature. Some believed it would establish limits rather than establish a base of participation in the political life of the nation. It is definitely a long road for women to gain the semblance of equality in some Muslim societies.

Aussies’ Have Loose Lips

Australia will not intervene in the case of one of its citizens who currently is in jail in Kuwait for insulting the emir of the country. According to her daughter, Nasrah Alshamery does not even know the name of the bloke who is in charge of the nation. Perhaps, we can assist in this case by offering some remarks the emir might consider more insulting than those said — or not said– by Mrs. Alshamery:
“Say, who is the guy who runs this place?”
“I hear the guy who runs Kuwait is really Jewish, it that true?”
“Did anyone know the word “emir” spelled backwards is “rime?”
“Is it true that Kuwaitians are really very impatient people like the emir?”

Thai-based Australian professor, Harry Nicolaides, has been jailed in Bangkok since August, 2007 on charge of lese-majeste” for making a negative remark about the Crown Prince. What would I have to do to get jailed for “more-majeste?”

I guess it would be wise for this writer to stay clear of Kuwait or Thailand. It’s too bad the Thailand Crown Prince and the Emir of Kuwait aren’t like Prince Harry who goes around insulting we commoners without any punishment. How about those monarchs being given a few hours to insult Nicolaides and Mrs. Alshamery?

Arab Nations See Peace Solution In Obama Victory

Arab nations believe the Obama victory represents a new opportunity for peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. However, Newspaper editor, Mohammad Al-Rumaihi, raised a point of concern stemming from Obama’s family connections with the Muslim religion. He fears since Obama’s father comes from a Muslim background the new president might lean over backward to support the Israel position. Other Arab leaders such as Dr.Rola Dshti emphasized the region is confident Obama’s election makes the concept of democracy even more important among Arab nations which frequently lack a democratic society.

There is a sense among many Arabs that Obama’s connection to Muslims somehow will impact his attitude toward the Middle East. We suspect most Arabs really don’t grasp the broad world perspective of Obama and his desire to work at problem solving regardless of who is involved in a problem.

Obama Sweeps Kuwait!

Barack Obama continues his victorious sweep of the nations of the world who apparently know something that is not known to all Americans–Barack Obama represents the world’s best hope for peace and security. In a straw poll conducted by the Kuwait Times, a majority of respondents said they preferred a victory for Senator Obama over the Republican John McCain. Many believe Obama represents the best hope for people of the Middle East to finally obtain peace in the region. Some cited the huge amount of money being spent by the United States for war when those funds could better be utilized to improve life in the United States.

The Kuwait Times poll revealed strong support not only among the youth of their nation, but, surprisingly among older people. There apparently is so much disgust among Kuwaiti people about the war in Iraq they fear McCain will continue the insanity and prefer a new direction led by Obama.

Should Schools “Instill Values?”

A recurring dream of schools throughout the world is their fervent belief a school can or should “instill values” in students. An assumption of this concept is that those who run schools agree on “values” and are capable of “instilling” those values into the minds of children. Of course, most psychologists believe childhood values come from the family, but schools continue seeking to impose their values in the classroom. The Ministry of Education in Kuwait recently sent a circular to all schools that teachers should be focusing on instilling values deriving from the Islamic religion. The project calls for spending three minutes on value propogation.

Children get values from those who have significance in their lives, not from a talking head who preaches ideas. We learn from those who engage us in meaningful ways that result in a desire to behave in the same manner as those whom we admire. A talking head is the last person in the world who can do anything other than bore students to death.

Kuwait Bans YouTube

The Kuwait Ministry of Communication has issued a memo to all Internet service providers in the country asking them to block YouTube access. The popular video website has come under fire from the Kuwait government for its alleged disrespect for the Muslim religion. Among the heretical videos shown was that of a man playing a musical instrument while reciting verses from the Koran and another which offered examples of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. It is not unusual for the Kuwait ministry to issue edicts banning this or that content, usually on the grounds it is offering pornographic or anti-religious material.

The world this century will witness an ongoing fight between forces that seek to suppress and forces that seek to advance the cause of freedom. Central to the issue of censorship is the definition as to what constitutes “pornography.”

Is Democracy Possible In An Islamic Society?

The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, raised the question as to whether it is possible for nations based on Islamic principles to actually possess a democratic form of government. It argues although there are “parliaments and sometimes even political opposition groups in many Muslim countries, abut as a general rule political decisions are based on agreements between tribal groups and families.” The newspaper cites the example of Kuwait which elected its first legislative assembly in 1938 and during the past seventy five years has conducted political campaigns and elections. Two years ago women were granted the right to vote.

There is evidence competent members of the legislature who display independence, invariably find themselves out of the running for the next election. The last election witnessed the arrival of female members of the assembly, an action which has resulted in conservatives becoming furious and refusing to have anything to do with the women. The emergence of a conservative opposition does not bode well for the survival of democracy in Kuwait.

Of course, Der Spiegel, ignored the Turkish democracy which is alive and vibrant. Muslim nations can become democratic as Turkey has accomplished.

Bangladesh Denounces Kuwait For Brutalizing Workers

The government of Bangladesh vigorously denounced Kuwait for its abusive treatment of Bangladesh workers in their nation. Kuwait, like most Middle Eastern nations which have oil wealth, has brought into its country hundreds of thousands of workers from Asia who do the dirty jobs and hard physical work that native born Kuwaitis do not enjoy. Thousands of Bangladeshi workers went on strike a few weeks ago demanding improved pay and better working conditions. Over 1,000 were expelled by the Kuwait government. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Aftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said bluntly, “For the faults of a few, many are being mercilessly deported empty-handed.” Deported workers showed blood stained shirts which was evidence of the brutality they experienced in Kuwait police stations. Most said they were deported without their employers being compelled to pay them wages owed for work done.

About 100,000 Bangladeshis work in Kuwait as cleaners and in low paid jobs, but the money they sent back home(about $8 billion last year) is critically important for many Bangladeshi people. Kuwait refuses to establish minimum standards of pay or working conditions for foreign born workers and the result is most are ill-treated and denied decent wages.