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‘No arbitrary arrests in response to US report on freedom of faith’

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‘Religious rites, customs must not clash’

KUWAIT CITY, June 8: Kuwait in response to the US State Department’s report on religious freedom said no arbitrary arrests are carried out by the Ministry of the Interior men and that all procedures are followed in accordance with the law, reports Al-Anba daily. The US State Department annual report in a special section stated that the Kuwaiti constitution declares that Islam is the religion of the state, and also declares that freedom of belief is “absolute.” It also states that the state protects a person’s freedom of speech and the practice of his religious rites, provided that such practice does not conflict with customs, public policy or morals.

The constitution also states that Sharia is a primary source of legislation and that all individuals are equal before the law regardless of religion. The report included that the law prohibits defamation of the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), and prohibits publishing or broadcasting materials that the government considers offensive to religious groups and practices that the government finds incompatible with Islamic law, and the government has prosecuted many individuals for statements deemed religiously offensive, most of them because of comments made online, some were sentenced to prison terms.

The report states that in January, authorities arrested Mubarak al-Bathali on the strength of 2014 Criminal Court ruling, convicting him of inciting sectarian strife, insulting a section of society (Shiites), and disturbing national unity via his Twitter account. The report touches on the arrest by the security authorities in July of the activist in the field of religious freedom, Nasser Dashti, on charges of blasphemy because of his public statements in which he criticized religion and praised secularism.

He stated that the government continues to appoint and pay the salaries of Sunni imams and provide the full basic text of the weekly Friday sermons delivered in Sunni mosques, while the government does not exercise the same supervision over Shiite imams, but does pay the salaries of some Shiite imams.

The report indicated that the Ministry of Religious Endowments had opened investigations with three Sunni imams for delivering sermons deemed politically motivated, deemed an insult to other religious groups, or violating the National Unity Law.

The report pointed out that hotels, shops and companies continue to celebrate non-Islamic holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, with some Muslim clerics continuing to express their rejection through social media to celebrate non-Islamic holidays, and called for more government measures to restrict public expression of these holidays.

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