Kuwaiti Emir Vetoes Sharia Law

May 18, 2012  

Emir Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Thursday blocked a proposal to amend the constitution to make all legislation in the country comply with Sharia law.

“His highness the emir is not in favour,” Islamist lawmaker Mohammad al-Dallal told reporters. “We must think again about convincing the emir or submitting it again in another format.”

“Our society is a conservative society. A lot of people request that laws comply with Sharia (Islamic law). We also do not have a stable political system,” he added, claiming such an amendment could help make lawmaking less chaotic.

Kuwaiti law requires the emir’s approval for any constitutional change.

Islamist MPs have proposed amending the constitution in this way several times in the past. This time, they asked to change article 79 to make Sharia “the only source” of legislation rather than a major or main source as it is now.

Islamists took near-absolute control of Kuwait’s parliament in early February elections on an anti-corruption platform – in what marks the major oil producer’s fourth parliament in six years.

The latest motion to make Sharia the only source of law in Kuwait was backed by 31 of parliament’s 50 lawmakers.

Kuwait, a regional US ally, is ruled by a Sunni Muslim monarchy with Islam as its official religion. Some 85 percent Kuwaitis are Muslim. The next biggest groups are expatriate Hindus and Christians.

The emir’s veto underscores the difficult position the slowly-liberalizing and business-minded Gulf Arab monarchies have found themselves in amid the Arab Spring. 

Gulf monarchs have found themselves contending with a rise of political Islam in tandem with tensions with rival Iran, with whom they are vying for hegemony over the Persian Gulf, which Gulf Arab states refer to it as the Arabian Gulf.

The result has been a shift towards the formation of a diplomatic and military Gulf Union and strengthening of ties with the West, especially the US and NATO.

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