Kuwait Parliament May Ban Swimsuits And Force Women To Wear Hijab

Proposal of Islamist MP forces hijab on all women – Women activists criticize statement.

KUWAIT: Parliament recently discussed a 'decent attire' draft law, proposed by Islamist MPs who want to ban swimsuits and introduce many other restrictions. Yesterday an Islamist MP made a new extreme statement. Islamist MP Osama Al-Mnawer stated that he does not mind proposing a law that forces and imposes upon women to wear hijab in public after approving the decent attire law. Women activists criticized this statement.

"We feel sorry for the current political situation in our country. It is sad that the majority of MPs who won the elections carry such conservative ideologies and ideas, which I consider unconstitutional. There are many issue that are much more important to solve and discuss such as the reforms in health, education and other sectors, which they were promoting in their election campaigns," Lulwa Al-Mulla, Secretary General of the Women's Cultural Society told the Kuwait Times.

"After Parliament was dissolved, we expected to see the MPs calling for reforms, and instead they came with other silly issues such as changing article 2 of the Constitution to make Islamic jurisprudence the only source of legislation, or approving a law of decent attire. And now Al-Mnawer is stating he wants to propose a draft law for hijab. Kuwaiti woman will not allow any changes to our Constitution and we will not let them force any rules on us. We are Muslims and respect our religion and this is a new issue. We refuse to change Kuwait into 'Kuwaitistan' as they like," added Al-Mulla.

Ibtisam, a 40-year-old Kuwaiti, found this law proposal illogical. "The Kuwaiti community is open-minded and developed, and cannot be compared to some extreme communities like Saudi Arabia. How can MPs restrict people from having plastic surgery? Islam is a religion of ease and not difficulty. I believe that such a draft law will not pass. If by any chance it passes, I will contest it as false and appeal it in the Constitutional Court as its unconstitutional. I am not against wearing hijab, but it should be optional and not forced by anybody," she stated.

The westerners living in Kuwait did not welcome this law either, but expressed their ability to adapt to it and accept it as long as they live here.

"If this law passes and I am still living here I will respect the laws of the country. I will probably wear a headscarf if it becomes law. However, I think this may affect a lot of people's decisions to come and work in the country. It might make some foreigners leave, as this might be uncomfortable for them. But again, as a foreigner I respect the country's right to make the laws that suit them best," said Canadian expatriate Emily.

Even men are against such a proposal. "I do not agree with a law to make hijab obligatory clothing for women, although my wife wears hijab. She decided to wear it by her own free will without force from anybody. We are not living in Qandahar, and I am sure such a law will not pass. I think this matter is a personal freedom, set in the Constitution, and it will not work by force," said 45-year-old Salem.

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