Kuwaitis Face Death for Insulting Islam Under New Law
Washington -- Kuwait's parliament approved the death sentence for Muslims who insult Allah, the Qu'ran, Muslim prophets, or Muhammad's wives on Thursday. Christians and other non-Muslim minorities will be given a minimum prison sentence of ten years for the same offense.
Forty members of parliament voted in favor of the amendment, while six opposed it, in the second and final round of voting on May 3. The bill still needs approval by Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, before becoming law.
The amendment follows the arrest of Hamad Al-Naqi, a Shiite Muslim, for allegedly using the social networking site Twitter to curse the Muslim Prophet Mohammed in March. In another case, writer Mohammad Al-Mulaifi was sentenced to seven years in jail with hard labor last month after he published remarks deemed offensive to Shiite Muslims. There are many Kuwaitis facing trial for similar charges that might be executed if the law is passed, reported the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
Parliamentarian Ali Al-Deqbasi said that incidents of cursing God in social media have increased and the new legislation is "needed to deter them."
Islamist parliamentarian Mohamed Al-Dallal agrees: "Twitter is an open area… everyone can speak. But it is not always being used as social media in Kuwait--not about friendship or personal matters but it is being used politically, to attack. This is a bad thing."
At present, blasphemy is considered slander or libel under Article 111 of Kuwait's Penal Code and carries up to one year's imprisonment and a fine. If the new amendment is enacted, Muslim defendants that repent in court following their first offense will be spared capital punishment, but will be given a five-year jail term or a fine of $36,000, Agence-France Presse reports. A second offense will warrant the death penalty. (...)