KUWAIT: MPs gather in the National Assembly hall after Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem cancelled the special session due to a no-show by government ministers yesterday. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Opposition lawmakers and local activists yesterday strongly criticized a decision by the interior ministry to deport a 25-year-old Jordanian resident for taking part in a gathering to protest against banning unvaccinated people from entering malls.

During the gathering held a few days ago at Irada Square, Abdullah Jebara spoke to local TV stations and gently criticized the decision barring unvaccinated people from entering malls. MP Thamer Al-Suwait described the decision as “unacceptable racist practices” and called for subjecting the deportation of legal residents to courts instead of leaving it to the discretion of security authorities.

MP Obaid Al-Wasmi said that “deporting a foreigner for merely expressing opinion related to his natural right as a human is illegal and inhuman.” MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari warned that “freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Kuwaiti constitution” and this should not be applied based on nationality.

Several other members of parliament and social media activists also rejected the interior ministry’s decision and called for subjecting deportations to the rule of the law. But MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji supported the decision, saying what Jebara did was not an act of freedom of expression but a violation of the law. He called on authorities to strike hard. Also, former MP Safa Al-Hashem backed the interior minister in his decision and said that allowing residents to express opinions publicly should be rejected.

Earlier in the week, another resident, an Egyptian national, was arrested and deported by security forces for insulting Kuwait in a social media post on dust-storms in Kuwait. In other news, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday cancelled the Assembly’s special session due to a no-show by government ministers. The session was called to debate a number of key issues including amending the election law but Ghanem said he was informed by the government that it will not attend and adjourned the session.

Minister of State for National Assembly Affairs Mubarak Al-Harees said the government boycotted the session because it was not consulted ahead of the meeting and was not allowed to express its opinions when the issues were debated by the Assembly panels. He said the government received the invitation to the meeting in less than 24 hours and could not prepare to debate the issues. The Assembly is due to hold another special session today to hear a briefing by the finance minister on the country’s financial status before announcing the closing of the Assembly term.