Kuwait's National Assembly has discussed a proposal to amend the Penal Code, increasing the legal punishment for anyone proven to have publicly committed blasphemy. The Legal and Legislative committee was assigned to review the amendment and form a
report to be debated and voted on during the April 10 session.
The amendment proposal stipulates the death penalty or life imprisonment to those who publicly insult God, or Mohammed or his wives by words, writings, drawings, or pictures or any other means of expression in a public place or where they can be seen
or heard by those in a public arena.
The amendment further adds that the punishment may be reduced to provisional detention for a period not exceeding five years if the convicted expresses remorse and regret in writing and verbally and vows not to return to his previous conduct . If
the convicted returns to his previous behavior, then the Court of Cassation must carry out the previous penalty, according to the proposal.
The amendment to Article 111 of the Penal Code was submitted following the arrest of a Kuwaiti citizen who made supposedly blasphemous remarks on Twitter.
The Assembly severely condemned the perpetrator and accused the Cabinet, specifically the Interior Ministry for failing to curb the recurrent phenomenon of blasphemy against Mohammed and his wives. They urged the approval of the legislation and the
Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the sentencing of Kuwaiti writer Mohamed al-Melify to 7 years' imprisonment and a fine of $18,000 on charges of supposedly spreading false statements via Twitter. He was arrested by the
authorities last February.
The Kuwait Criminal Court found the writer guilty of spreading false news through his personal Twitter page about sectarian divisions in the country and publishing insults against Shiism in addition to charges of libel and defamation of the MP Ahmed
The police also arrested a Shiite citizen last month for insulting the Prophet on his Twitter page, an act that angered Sunnis in the country, even leading some members of the Parliament to call for his execution.
It is not permissible to punish a person for whatever religious views, political affiliation, or other opinions that he/she expresses. The imprisonment of writers and Tweeps tarnishes Kuwait's reputation in the field of freedom of opinion and
expression. Therefore, ANHRI calls on the authorities to drop all charges against al-Melify and all prisoners of conscience, and put forward legislation that would ensure the rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
Parliament provisionally approves law requiring the death penalty for religious insult
A Kuwaiti blogger held for supposedly posting abusive remarks against the religious character Mohammad will know about his fate next week.
A court said that Hamad Naqi would be tried on May 21 on charges of denigrating Islam and insulting Mohammad, disseminating false and misleading claims and promoting a sect that aims to undermine security in the country.
However, Naqi denied the charges and said that his Twitter account had been hacked.
Several Kuwaiti lawmakers last month said they would launch public protests if Naqi is not punished for the supposed blasphemy.
Kuwait plans to pass laws this year to censor the use of social networking sites such as Twitter, the information minister has said, in
the wake of cases of alleged blasphemy and sectarianism that have prompted protests.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have already voted in favour of a legal amendment earlier this month which could make insulting religious characters punishable by death.
Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said:
The government is now in the process of establishing laws that will allow government entities to regulate the use of the different new media outlets such as Twitter in order to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society.
Sheikh Mohammad said laws regulating social media needed to be passed as soon as possible: I have been asking the parliamentarians to give this priority, adding that he hoped the measures would be implemented this year.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have endorsed a legal amendment which looks set to make insulting the religious characters of God and Mohammad
punishable by death.
The bill has now passed its second reading and now just needs approval by Kuwait's ruler before it becomes law. The law was passed by 40 votes to 6.
The draft now includes a new clause which will mean the death penalty will only be applied if the person stands by their actions when questioned by a judge. This would give defendants the opportunity to repent and face a prison term or a fine
instead. The amendment would also apply the death penalty only for Muslims.
Arabic Network For Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the sentence of 10 years in jail and a fine of 1000 Kuwaiti Dinars handed
to Lawrence al-Rashidi, a Kuwaiti blogger, on charges of insulting the Prince and his powers in poems uploaded on YouTube . ANHRI considers this ruling as evidence that freedom of expression in Kuwait has reached a new low.
The case began in June 2011, when the general prosecution accused al-Rashidi of spreading false news and rumors about the situation in the country , uploading visual and audio recordings prepared by him on YouTube , calling for
the demolition of values and ethics , and calling on tribes to appoint a Prince of the country, demonstrate, confront the ruling regime, and bring down its transgressions . Al-Rashidi is also being tried because of his posts on Twitter,
deemed by the authorities as an insult to the princely identity .
We are deeply disturbed over this cruel and shocking ruling. The campaign launched against activists in Kuwait is escalating. The Kuwaiti government is detaining bloggers and activists because they express their opinion on the Internet and use
it in their discussions and exchange of information, said ANHRI.
A Kuwaiti man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of supposedly endangering state security by insulting the religious character Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media.
Shi'ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last month. The written verdict found Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters.
The sentence was the maximum that Naqi could have received, his lawyer Khaled al-Shatti said. But an appeal could be possible.
The judge found him guilty of supposedly insulting Mohammed, his wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and using his mobile phone to spread the comments.
The civil plaintiff arguing the case against Naqi, had called for Naqi to be executed reflecting the bloodlust of politicians and religious extremists. This verdict is a deterrent to those who insult the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and the
mothers of the believers, civil plaintiff Dowaem al-Mowazry said in a text message. He had argued in court that Naqi must be made an example of.
Kuwait's Ameer, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, has refused to sign a bill passed by parliament stipulating the death penalty for major religious offences.
The government has sent the bill back to parliament indicating that it had been rejected by the Ameer.
The Ameer has the power to refuse bills passed by the elected parliament, but the assembly can override the rejection by passing the bill again with a two-thirds majority of the house membership of 49 MPs and 16 cabinet ministers.
The bill, passed by parliament last month, stipulates that Muslims who curse the Koran, or the religious characters, God, Mohammed, prophets or Mohammed's wives.
The bill introduced two new laws specifically to introduce extreme penalties for such offences. Non-Muslims who commit the same offence face extreme jail terms of not less than 10 years, according to the bill.
A prominent female academic and human rights activist in Kuwait has been charged with blasphemy. Sheikha al-Jassem was summoned to the public prosecutor's
office after legal complaints were filed against her over a recent interview she gave on TV.
She asserted that the constitution of Kuwait should be above the Quran and Islamic law in governing the country. The interview was broadcast on Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV on 8 March. Its theme was the rise of Islamic extremism.
During the interview, Jassem was asked about radical Islamists who said that religion was more important than the Kuwaiti constitution. She responded by saying that this was dangerous and that, in her opinion, politics and religion should be kept
apart. Jassem made reference to the violence across the Middle East and divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims. She said that if you just went back to holy books and relied on them, society could not move forward.
Her remarks provoked a storm of attacks against her, spearheaded by Islamist members of Kuwait's parliament.
The public prosecutor still has the discretion to decide whether or not Ms Jassem will be put on trial.