A lawmaker from Kuwait’s Shiite community resigned on Wednesday after another MP insulted him during a heated exchange in parliament.
“The most painful insult was when on Tuesday my sect was insulted by my colleague Hamdan Al Azimi who said ‘Go and rectify your sect’,” MP Faisal Al Duwaisan said. “Such an insult goes well beyond my person to target a sect followed by several Kuwaitis,” he said in his three-page resignation letter.
Al Duwaisan said the insulted amounted to a crime under the national unity law and a violation of the parliament bylaws that stipulate lawmakers do not use inadequate or unfit words that undermine the dignity of people or institutions.
Al Duwaisan said that the parliament should take action based on the two violations. “As I have observed that the parliament was not willing to take a clear action to apply the law against Al Azemi who insulted Kuwaiti Shiites, I hereby hand in my resignation. I do apologise to the Kuwaitis who had placed their trust in me,” Al Dawsan wrote.
Al Duwaisan and Al Azemi had the standoff as the parliament was holding a regular session.
Al Azemi was referring to the budget and to the costs to run the parliament’s television station and newspaper, saying that the finance ministry was funding the channel with KD 5 million, a claim that the finance minister rejected as “not true.”
Al Duwaisan interfered to say the budget of the television channel was not enough, but Al Azemi rejected the comment and the two had a verbal argument. Al Azemi reportedly insulted Al Duwaisan and his sect. Other lawmakers joined in the argument.
During a debate on Tuesday, Al Azemi “told me: ‘you should rectify your sect,’” Al Duwaisan said.
Al Duwaisan said that he was shocked by the development of the situation and said that he would resign “in respect for my sect.” Kuwait’s 50-member parliament has seven lawmakers.
At the end of the session, Shiite MP Abdullah Al Tamimi and Al Azemi briefly quarrelled before they were restrained by other lawmakers. Al Duwaisan said he will not withdraw his resignation unless Al Azemi publicly apologies or parliament takes disciplinary action against him. There are seven Shiite MPs in the 50-member house.
Kuwait issued the national unity law in 2013 amid rising sectarian tension in the emirate, where Shiites form around a third of the 1.3 million citizen population. The legislation prescribes several years in jail for religious or ethnic hatred.