The National Assembly’s legal and legislative committee yesterday passed a proposal to amend the residency law in which foreigners convicted for contempt of religions will be banned from entering the country. The amendment stipulates that foreigners who have been penalized for contempt of religions or undermining Islam, Islamic beliefs and the Prophet’s (PBUH) companions or family members will be banned from entry into Kuwait.
The proposal becomes law when the amendment is approved by the Assembly and accepted by the government. In the past few years, Kuwait banned or even expelled controversial religious and other figures for allegedly abusing various Islamic sects or highly revered Muslim figures. The committee however rejected several proposals calling to naturalize children of Kuwaiti women married to non-Kuwaitis. The rejection was based on the grounds that the proposals contradict Kuwait’s nationality law of 1959.
Thousands of Kuwaiti women are married to foreigners and bedoon (stateless) people, but unlike their male counterparts, their children do not automatically get Kuwaiti citizenship. Member of the committee MP Saleh Ashour however said he is opposed to the committee’s decision because it constitutes a form of gender discrimination which is banned in the Kuwaiti constitution.
The committee also passed a controversial draft law to regulate the activities of student unions. Among several issues, the bill prevents student unions from being involved in political activities. The bill also states that establishing a branch outside the country of a Kuwaiti student union should be in line with the laws effective in that country. At present, establishing branches is at the decision of the union. The draft law prevents student unions from accepting any donations without the prior approval of the concerned ministry and also adopts a single vote system in electing the board of directors.
Member of the committee liberal MP Rakan Al-Nasef said that he voted against the proposal because it negatively impacts student unions. Nasef said the bill bars students from being involved in politics, “while we know that many well-known politicians began their political activities while they were students”.
The legal committee also approved a proposal to amend the consumer protection law to allow individuals to initiate lawsuits in courts through the national committee for consumer protection or other non-governmental organizations. If these organizations fail to file the lawsuits, at least 50 consumers can file a case themselves against those who harm public interests.