Sectarian sparks fly again in a debate over ‘Iran cell’ – Lawmakers urged to focus on development projects, budget deficit

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti Shiite Member of Parliament Abdulhameed Dashti (center) speaks during a parliament session at Kuwait’s National Assembly in Kuwait City yesterday
KUWAIT: Kuwaiti Shiite Member of Parliament Abdulhameed Dashti (center) speaks during a parliament session at Kuwait’s National Assembly in Kuwait City yesterday

KUWAIT: Sectarian sparks again marred National Assembly debate yesterday over the Iran-linked cell. Sunni and Shiite MPs traded accusations as Iran came under strong criticism. Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah regretted that four months after manifesting solid national unity in the aftermath of the deadly suicide bombing on the Shiite mosque, MPs were trading sectarian comments. He also regretted that accusations were leveled against the Kuwaiti Judiciary and the Public Prosecution.

Several MPs expressed their anger at the sectarian debate, saying lawmakers needed to focus on development projects and methods to meet the impending budget deficit due to the fall in the oil prices. The sectarian exchange had started in Tuesday’s session with strong accusations traded between Sunni and Shiite MPs. The trend continued even more strongly in yesterday’s session. “Iran is designing evil plots against Kuwait. Iran is responsible for terror cells” Islamist MP Ahmad Al-Azemi said. “Terror has no religion. We warn against sectarian discord” he said.

MP Faisal Al-Kundari attacked those who are trying to downplay the full impact of the terror cell by showing it as a case of hiding illegal arms. “The way the arms were stored is an indication that it is a terror cell that has been waiting for orders from states and groups to act” said Kundari who accused some MPs and others of being lawyers for Iran. MP Mohammad Al-Jabri vowed “we will silence all those defending Iran” adding that the arms were smuggled into the country for a purpose.

As Shiite MP Abdulhameed Dashti tried to intervene, Jabri yelled at him saying “you have appointed yourself as a defense lawyer for Iran”. MP Mohammad Al-Huwailah said the cell is supported by the party of evil in a reference to Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. Many exchanges and interruptions took place during the debate which is essentially over the Amiri address delivered at the Assembly’s new term opening session last week.

Leading Shiite MP Adnan Abdulsamad however said there has been an organized media campaign against the whole Shiite community even before a final judgment has been issued by the court against the alleged cell members, all of whom are Shiites. “The Amir has not said that the cell belongs to Iran or Hezbollah” said Abdulsamad, adding that judgments should not be rushed before the court verdict.

He said that the campaign and accusations were being leveled to “terrorize the Shiite community in Kuwait.” “We will not be terrorized or intimidated. We are against terrorism and those who work against Kuwait” Abdulamad said. He said that “we remained silent even despite the accusations because we did not want to be drawn into sectarian rift”. “But some have exceeded the limit and have been rushing judgments and accusing the whole Shiite community” he said. Abdusamad said that “we are not against penalizing anyone but after being proven guilty by the court – and not before”. He said that most of the seized arms are from the time of the 1990-91 Iraqi occupation and some from local sources.

He complained that confessions from some of the alleged cell members were extracted under physical torture and claimed that investigation rules were not followed by the Public Prosecution. Justice Minsiter Yacoub Al-Sane denied the accusations and called for deleting any reference to the judicial procedures in the case. Similar sectarian flare-ups took place in Tuesday’s session. During the debate, MP Saadoun Hammad protested that during the Shiite mosque attack case, photos of those accused and their full names were published and that in the Iran-linked cell case, information were not fully published.

By a staff reporter

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