The absence of an accurate legislation regulating freedom of religion in Kuwait becomes apparent once this right is exercised. Freedom to choose the religion you want to follow, convert to or various ways to worship are absolute rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Article 35 allows the practice of all religions, provided the public system and literature are not disturbed while exercising this right. This is why worshipers can gather in public areas to attend sermons and eulogies during holy events “without violating the public system and literature;” while the government provides them with security to ensure they fully exercise their rights.
But when it comes to laws published as an Act of Parliament, we find nothing to regulate this right. Some people find themselves accused of crimes but there is no law which defines ways to demonstrate or expound on how to exercise one’s rights and what is prohibited. Only the Criminal Law stipulates punishment in this regard, particularly articles 109 to 113; stating that a person will be imprisoned if he expresses what he thinks about other religions in a non-academic manner! This makes me ask: Do such laws protect or violate the right guaranteed by the Constitution? Can a person practice his religious rituals while there is a law that declares him an offender without regulations telling him clearly what to do and what not to do?
There is a massive gap between laws and regulations on freedom to practice one’s religion. Therefore, the Parliament must act quickly to address the issue.
By Atyab Alshatti, Esq.