Assembly panel rejects citizenship for non-Muslims – Panel nods to social, civil rights for Bedoons

KUWAIT: The National Assembly’s interior and defense committee yesterday rejected a draft law to allow authorities to grant Kuwaiti citizenship to non-Muslims which is prohibited under the law, head of the committee said. MP Askar Al-Enezi said the rejection was based on a constitutional provision which states that “Islam is the official religion of the state.”

Kuwait’s nationality law issued for the first time in 1959 allowed the naturalization of non-Muslims but this provision was amended by the National Assembly in 1981 thus prohibiting granting citizenship to non-Muslims.

The legal and legislative committee less than a month ago approved the draft law, saying it did not violate the constitution. But Islamist and conservative lawmakers strongly opposed the move and vowed to reject when it comes for voting in the assembly.

Enezi said that the government also rejected the draft law, supporting the opinion of the committee. Interior Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah attended the meeting.

The lawmaker said the interior minister informed the committee that the government will submit a draft law proposing amendments to the nationality law. The amendments will allow granting citizenship to wives and widows of Kuwaiti men and the foreign children of Kuwaiti women after reaching the legal age.

In the meantime, the assembly’s human rights committee yesterday approved a draft law granting civil and social rights for Bedoons or stateless people, head of the committee MP Adel Al-Damkhi said. Damkhi said the bill provides comprehensive rights for tens of thousands of Bedoons in the country. The bill needs to be passed by the national assembly in a vote.

By B Izzak

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