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Monday , November 12 2018

Cemeteries in Kuwait … A ‘living’ example of coexistence, tolerance

‘Country still considered as land of peace’

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 8, (KUNA): Since its establishment as a political entity, Kuwait has been a haven of a unique state of peaceful coexistence among people of different social, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

The country was and still considered as the land of peace, bringing people of Muslim and Christian faiths together, in addition to Jewish faith at one point of time. In his book (Christians in Kuwait), Hamza Ulayyan chronicles some important historic aspects of the life of Christians and Jews in Kuwait, including their cemeteries.

Ulayyan indicates that the exact number of cemeteries hosting deceased Muslims and non-Muslims together; a common matter in the past, remain inaccurate and, to a point, unknown.

Some believe that there were 75 mixed-faith cemeteries in Kuwait, while the Funeral Affairs Department at Kuwait Municipality documents only 67 cemeteries of such existed in all the country’s six governorates, said the author. He also points out to a field study, conducted by Kuwaiti researcher Mohammad Al-Nafeesi, on old cemeteries in Kuwait City, which revealed 23 cemeteries in the country labeled as “public”, “old”, “unknown”, and “vanished”, in addition to “mini-cemeteries.”

One of the first Christian cemeteries in Kuwait is located nearby Al- Khaleejiah Complex in Sharq area, Ulayyan said, noting that researchers had argued over the years on whether or not it belonged to people of Jewish faith.

However, the grave marks inside the cemetery indicate that it actually belonged to Christians. At the same token, the cemetery, which closed in 1948, still hosts the grave of the second British Agent in Kuwait Captain Shakespeare, who passed away in 1915, in addition to the famous British physician Charles Stanley Mylrea, who supervised the US missionary medical hospital in Kuwait, he noted.

The second Christian cemetery in Kuwait was founded in 1950 in Ahmadi area, he said, adding it closed in 1960. The cemetery hosted the grave of the British Political Agent in Kuwait Colonel Harold Dickson, who passed away in 1959.

Meanwhile, a Christian minicemetery existed in Sulaibikhat area back in the early 1960s and was closed in 1975, said Ulayyan. Consequently, the New Christian Cemetery was opened 1961 in Sulaibikhat behind Al-Jaafariya Cemetery and still active to this day, he noted.

Moreover, people of Jewish faith had had a cemetery in Kuwait back during the 1920s, located in Al- Beloush neighborhood in Sharq area, specifically on Khaled Bin Al-Waleed Street behind Madouh cemetery. There was also, at one point of history, a cemetery for Buddhists in Sulaibikhat area, which closed in 1970, said the author.

By Reem Al-Barjas

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