Kuwait proposes radical terrorism legislation

Draft legislation to combat religious extremism in Kuwait submitted to parliament

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By  Rhys Jones Published  May 11, 2005

Kuwaiti lawmakers have proposed legislation to combat religious extremism and violence following clashes that rocked the country earlier this year. The bill, which requires the approval of parliament to become law, proposes a penalty of up to 15 years in jail for those found guilty of involvement in violent attacks. The draft legislation was submitted by Abd al-Wahab al-Harun, a liberal, and Yusuf al-Zalzala, a Shia Muslim. Four policemen and nine gunmen were killed and 10 security officers were wounded in clashes between security forces and suspected Islamist fighters in January. The authorities have since arrested more than 30 suspected members of a group in connection with the gun battles and claim they are linked to Al-Qaeda. The bill also forbids the use of mosques for slandering others or attempting to disrupt Kuwait’s relations with other countries. It calls for the setting up of a special council for religious edicts comprised of scholars and thinkers, which will be the sole authority for issuing fatwas. The bill also bans publications that promote hatred against any group in society or instigating others to kill based on religious interpretations. Kuwait, a key US ally, has arrested scores of men since the US invaded neighbouring Iraq in April 2003. Amnesty International, a human rights group, claims there have been unconfirmed reports of torture and ill-treatment of political detainees in the country.

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