KUWAIT: MP Khalil Al-Saleh yesterday submitted a draft law calling to amend the nationality law in a way to allow granting citizenship to non-Muslims, saying taking the religion factor in nationality affairs amounts to a form of discrimination. The Shiite lawmaker said that the Kuwaiti nationality law, first introduced in 1959, did not stipulate religious conditions in granting citizenship to foreigners. However, an amendment introduced in 1982 required that foreigners who may be granted Kuwaiti citizenship should be Muslim by birth or have embraced Islam for at least five years.
“This condition involves a hated discriminatory factor that we never experienced,” in Kuwait, Saleh, a former pilot at Kuwait Airways, said. He said that his proposals calls to scrap the religious precondition in the nationality law so as to allow granting Kuwaiti citizenship to all foreigners regardless of religion. He said the religious precondition for granting citizenship contradicts the freedom of belief and faith which is enshrined in the Kuwaiti constitution.
Almost all the 1.2 million Kuwaiti citizens are Muslims but there are around 200 Christian Kuwaitis whose ancestors had migrated to Kuwait many years ago. It is not known if there are Kuwaiti nationals who belong to other religions. To become effective, the amendment must be first passed by the legal and legislative committee, approved by the National Assembly and then accepted by the government.
In another development, the National Assembly’s financial and economic affairs committee yesterday approved proposals to raise the housing loan to KD 100,000 from the current KD 70,000, head of the committee said. MP Youssef Al-Zalzalah also said the committee approved other proposals to raise the monthly housing allowance for Kuwaiti families waiting to get government houses from KD 150 to KD 250. Zalzalah said the government had no objection to raising the housing loan but said it will have to study the other proposal.
The proposal entails Kuwaitis who had only got the KD 70,000 loan to seek the difference of KD 30,000. The Cabinet had already decided to raise the housing loan to KD 100,000 but has not implemented the decision. Regarding the housing allowance, the government currently pays KD 150 monthly to every Kuwaiti family that is waiting for its turn to receive a government house. The committee decided to raise this to KD 250. Zalzalah said the government has been told to supervise the real estate market to prevent landlords from exploiting the expected raise to increase rents.
The criminal court yesterday postponed until Sept 17 the case of several former opposition MPs including Musallam Al-Barrak on charges of insulting the Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II. The insults were reportedly made at an opposition demonstration staged in November last year. The foreign ministry protested at the insults and took the case to court. The court also struck down a suspended one-month jail term against opposition activist Abbas Al-Shaabi and acquitted him on charges of taking part in illegal protests.
By B Izzak, Staff Writer