A Kuwaiti lawmaker has waded into controversy after he called for amending an article in the constitution to make sure all acts promulgated by the parliament are fully consistent with Sharia. “The Islamic laws must always have the upper hand, and we request the parliament and the government to agree on amending Article 79 of the constitution,” MP Mohammad Al Hayef said. “As we are all Muslims, I do not expect any lawmaker to reject the amendment or to miss the honour of endorsing it.”
Article 79 stipulates that “no law may be promulgated unless it has been passed by the National Assembly [Parliament] and sanctioned by the Amir”. However, Justice Minister Faleh Al Azeb said that amending the constitution required public support and the approval of the Amir. “Amending the constitution is not an easy or simple matter and needs several approvals,” he said. “We respect personal views and requests, but introducing amendments to the constitution is not a slight issue and requires profound measures.”
MP Rakan Al Nisf said that he totally rejected the “Islamisation” of laws and legislation in Kuwait, insisting that all legal texts in Kuwait must be adapted to the entire population in the country with their various religions and sects. “The Constitutional amendment requested by MP Al Hayef violates the philosophy of amendments to the constitution which state that they should be for more freedoms, not their restriction,” he said. “The Islamisation of laws through the power of the constitution violates the text of Article 35, which stipulates that ‘freedom of belief is unrestricted’ and that ‘the State shall protect freedom in the observance of religious rites established by custom, provided such observance does not conflict with morals or disturb public order’.”
MP Omar Al Tabtabaei said that he was puzzled by the call to amend the constitution. “We live in a civil state ruled by the constitution, and such an amendment was refused by the Emir when it was suggested in 2012,” he said.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), a liberal bloc established in 1992, said that it was astonished with the new request to amend Article 79 of the Constitution for the Islamisation of state laws, although such a move had been rejected by the Amir in 2012.
“The amendment would transform Kuwait into a religious state, at a time when we are calling for more freedoms and the completion of the foundations of democracy and secularism,” Bashar Al Sayegh, the secretary-general of the alliance, said, quoted on Wednesday by Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas.
“The amendment represents a serious setback for democracy and the civil state. The current constitution does not preclude legislation of laws in accordance with Islamic Sharia, but it does not impose them through the power of the constitution, given the nature of the pluralistic Kuwaiti society.”
Al Sayegh stressed that the constitutional amendment would replace legal legislation by religious edicts. “This would void the constitution of its spirit, would make the state hostage to fatwas and Islamists, would deprive the others of their opinions and their religious and intellectual diversity and would usurp the rights of minorities.”
MPs should pay attention to the real urgent priorities that the community needs and should avoid repeating past mistakes, he added.
Source: Gulf News