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Wednesday , November 13 2019

Enough of outbidding

Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

ONE of the deputies who is a ‘disaster’ to this nation has submitted a proposal to toughen the ‘segregation law’ to satisfy the sentiments of those who elected him to the National Assembly especially the fundamentalists who have plagued us and now want to test our patience.

The amendment he has proposed is ‘notorious’ – the amendment to the ‘Law for the prevention of co-education, mixed-sex education or mixed-gender education at the university’ as you may call it.

The law was dictated by the fundamentalists in the 1990s and the then good government neither objected nor sent it back. Our late colleague, the then Minister of Education Dr Ahmed Al-Rubei was blamed for not sending the law back to the National Assembly which was justified by the fact that in case the government acted on this law, he had to resign and he could not afford to do that because he had a big education plan which he wanted to implement during his term of office.

We reluctantly remained silent. We have seen how this law took us backwards and hindered the establishment of a new university for more than two decades. It is a cent percent unapplied law. The students of both sexes mix during social occasions in all places and corners of their faculties, as at the Shuwaikh University for example. It is a complete city, and there is room for the students of both genders to ‘meet and greet’ in every corner of that city.

This law, in my view is odd given the background of our society. We are a naturally conservative society and we are plagued by thousands of those who have been naturalized during the tide which prevailed in the 1960s and 1970s. They brought with them the old ideas that existed in their original communities. There was no co-education in the pre-university stage and we had no university.

The government used to send male and female students to study in the universities of Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and others where there was no segregation. We did not hear about any unethical incident – God forbid – related to Kuwaiti students studying abroad at that time. We are very happy to hear that the government now roars like a lion and turned down the request for amendment saying the current gender segregation at the universities is good enough.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Aug 14, the Al-Rai daily reported the existence of a ‘Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Kuwait’. The Sikh community has turned a warehouse in one of the outskirts of Kuwait owned by a company into a temple for worship. The daily has published a picture showing Asians sitting in a big lounge, and food is being cooked and served by the ‘faithful’ for the ‘faithful’.

We did not see any religious rituals being performed or the presence of statues, symbols or the like. We say, even if that place is dedicated as a temple for Sikhs, what is the problem? The Kuwaiti Constitution and human rights principles allow the individuals to practice religious rituals freely if there is no offense or provocation to others.

We tell those who incite others that the countries where Sikhs practice their faith, there are also plenty of mosques, churches and temples and if our government concede to the demands of our hardliners who look to create problems and prevent those Sikhs, according to the newspaper – from practicing their rituals privately and not publicly – that wrong decision may reflect on their politicians in their countries and lead to the closure of Muslims mosques there, on the principle of reciprocity. Who will bear the consequences? Please stop outbidding. Enough is enough.

By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

Former Oil Minister

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