Lawmaker proposes granting citizenship to non-Muslims

Panel to probe jail attack – MP demands investment reforms

KUWAIT: MP Khaled Al-Shatti yesterday submitted a draft law calling to scrap a provision in the 1959 nationality law that prohibits granting Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims. The lawmaker said that scrapping the provision will end what he called decades of discrimination against non-Muslims in the country’s nationality law.

The proposed amendment must first be cleared by the National Assembly’s legislative committee and approved by the interior and defense committee, before going to the Assembly for a vote. To become law, the amendment must be approved by the Assembly and then be accepted by the government.

Shatti said the provision wrongly bases citizenship conditions on religious affiliations and not legal bonds, as it should be. “This is an outdated provision and it’s time that it is deleted from the nationality law,” Shatti told reporters after filing the draft law. Under the current provision, Kuwaiti citizenship can only be granted to Muslims by birth or those who converted to Islam at least five years before applying. The provision states that Kuwaitis who leave Islam will have their citizenship revoked.

Meanwhile, member of the Assembly’s human rights committee MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari said yesterday the panel will investigate an attack on former MP and prominent opposition leader Musallam Al-Barrak in jail. Kandari said the committee plans to investigate conditions at the Central Jail and will focus on the incident, which took place on Sunday night. Barrak was hit in the face by another inmate jailed for a drugs offense. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was examined, and his injury was found to be minor. He was taken back to prison the same night.

Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Jarrah Al-Sabah ordered an investigation into the attack. A number of opposition MPs claimed the attack was planned. Barrak is serving the last two months of his two-year jail sentence for insulting HH the Amir and undermining his authority. He is due to be released around mid-April.

Separately, Islamist opposition MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said yesterday he has sent a series of questions to Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh about Kuwait’s foreign investments, “which include major mistakes”. The lawmaker said the minister has two weeks to answer the questions and start undertaking the necessary reforms, or he will be questioned in the Assembly. Tabtabaei said he has submitted proposals to establish a fourth mobile company, a new Islamic bank and a pharmaceutical firm. He also proposed establishing a company for solar energy, another for petrochemicals and a third for the planned metro project.

The constitutional court meanwhile set May 3 to issue its verdicts on 54 challenges to November’s Assembly election.

By B Izzak

This article was published on 20/02/2017