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Sunday , January 17 2021

Issue of Sikh temple in Kuwait draws mixed reaction from public

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 15: The issue of the Sikh temple or Gurdwara that was discovered in a remote area of Sulaibikhat where the Sikhs allegedly perform their rituals is believed to be illegal because the site has not been used for the purpose it was allocated for, reports Al-Rai daily.

The site was allegedly allocated to a company for a warehouse but the Sikhs have transformed it into a ‘house for worship’. The Kuwait Municipality has absolved itself of the responsibility saying the issue is responsibility of Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fisheries Resources (PAAAFR).

The Municipality also said it had brought to the attention of PAAAFR several similar issues including plots allotted for establishing poultry farms and livestock pens, but in fact these plots of land are being used for different purposes and the follow up of these issues must be done by PAAAFR. All plots in Sulaibiya fall under the supervision of PAAAFR directly, and therefore, tracking the violations falls within its jurisdiction.

On the other hand, the PAAAFR Director Sheikh Muhammad Al- Yousef told the daily the issue of temple is being closely followed up by the authority after its details were published by Al-Rai especially if it is a matter of public morals or if it affects public security and welfare.

The Ministry of Interior also has addressed the authorities responsible for the management of the place and the owner of the license, and whether it is run as a temple or as a private residence or commercial or otherwise, pointing out that the role of security men is to implement what has been approved whether inspecting or removing the place or inspecting the workers in it.

Commenting on the matter, the Second Secretary at the Indian Embassy in Kuwait, said the embassy is not aware of the establishment of the Sikh temple in Kuwait, and denied the Sikhs at any time had approached the embassy for assistance to establish a place of worship for them.

He said in a statement to the daily that India is a home to many religions such as Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and a number of others, including Sikhs, but he stressed the embassy does not encourage the establishment of any activity that violates the Kuwaiti laws, nor does it support any activity that affects the strong friendly ties between India and Kuwait.

However, the issue of the temple has attracted mixed reactions some calling for immediate removal or closure, because it is contrary to Islamic law and forbidden by law while others say the Sikhs too have a right for worship and exercise their most basic rights, because Kuwait does not support religious intolerance.

MP Muhammad Hayef demanded the removal of the temple for what he called violating the Islamic law and the laws in force in the country, especially since it is built without a license and called for accelerating the closure, stressing “this does not contradict the principle of freedom of belief, which is rooted in Islam, and that there is no compulsion in religion, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, in Article 35, according to established customs and not to disturb public order.”

MP Riyadh Al-Adasani said there are those who believe that the freedom of belief means allowing the establishment of temples contrary to the laws of the state and encroachment on its territory and without official authorization, and some of them believe that freedom of expression is prejudice to our Islamic religion.

For his part, the preacher Hai Al- Hai stressed on the need for “firmness and decisiveness in dealing with such issues, which is an evil that must be confronted strongly if the state wants to live in security and tranquility.” He said, the Sikhs must take into account the feelings of Muslims because Muslims in any country ask permission before they take similar steps (of establishing their house of worship).

Kuwait University Professor Dr Sulaiman Ibrahim Al-Khodari had a different opinion. He said, “Yes, the Sikhs have the right to have a temple in Kuwait. Yes, the right of all religions to practice freely in the country of humanity, who were brought to work (in Kuwait) from their own countries and demanded that they not be prevented from exercising their most basic rights.”

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