A few days ago, a popular shoe was launched by a global footwear brand. If anyone is into sneakers, they will know that many brands have “exclusive” or “limited” shoes that usually launch around the world on the exact same date, and buyers wait in line to be able to get the shoe, as the demand is much higher than the supply.
Many people were discussing how one of the branches of an international store in Kuwait decided to only sell the shoes to Kuwaitis, by making people in line write their name on a paper beforehand, and then non-Kuwaitis were not called out. I am not sure if this truly happened or not; I am also aware that some of the comments on social media were racist, while some were very gentle and loving to all nationalities. Also, I am aware that some events may be dramatized for various reasons. Regardless of what actually happened, I think it is important to highlight that Kuwaiti laws are non-discriminative and understand that if this actually did happen, legal consequences will follow.
There are many people on social media who think that it is okay legally not to sell products to a certain race, especially if they were to “resell” the shoes. Regardless of what they wanted to do with the shoes, there is no legal stance for treating any person from a different race differently when it comes to employment or commercial activities, I understand if land or houses are only sold to Kuwaitis, but it makes no sense otherwise.
The great thing though was the amount of Kuwaitis who were defending rights and highlighting these laws. I am really glad that people are speaking out, that people understand that this is an issue that needs to be discussed for Kuwait to be a better place, and that racism can be an issue in Kuwait.
Kuwait’s constitution of 1962
- Article 29: The people are peers in human dignity and have, in the eyes of the law, equal public rights and obligations. There shall be made no differentiation among them because of race, origin, language or religion.
- Article 7: Justice, freedom and equality are the pillars of society; and cooperation and compassion are the firm link binding all citizens.
- Article 31: No person may be arrested, imprisoned, searched, have his residence restricted or be restrained in liberty of residence or of movement save in conformity with the provisions of the law. No person shall be subjected to torture or to ignominious treatment.
- Article 35: Freedom of belief is unrestricted. The state shall protect freedom in the observance of religious rites established by custom, provided such observance does not conflict with morals or disturb public order.
- Article 36: Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed. Subject to the conditions and stipulations specified by law, every person shall have the right to express his opinion by speaking or writing or otherwise.
Articles from the Kuwait private sector labor law
- Article 46
The service of the worker shall not be terminated without any justification or as a result of his activity in the syndicate or a claim or his legal rights in accordance with the provisions of the law. The service of the worker may not be terminated for reason of gender, race or religion.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed