Friday, April 13, 2012

Off with your head!

Not really! In Kuwait, capital punishment happens by way of hanging. In private, but the dangling corpses are then open to the public. I remember flipping open the newspaper once as a teenager and seeing front page shots of two people with nooses still around their necks. It was disturbing. But until now, capital punishment was reserved for murder, rape and drug trafficking.

All that might be about to change. On Wednesday, the Kuwaiti Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of amendments to the blasphemy law, amendments that put people who blaspheme on the same level as murderers and rapists. Yes, say something against the prophet Muhammed or his wives and you could be hanged. 46 Members of Parliament voted for the amendment, with 4 against and 3 abstaining. The 4 Shiite MPs who opposed the amendment wanted Shiite imams to be included in the law. It was not an opposition on basic moral and humanitarian grounds, but rather on the grounds that the law was not inclusive enough.

Here's an excerpt from the Kuwait Times:
Currently, Kuwait’s penal code stipulates hefty penalties including many years in jail for those who commit religious offenses, especially those related to Prophet Mohammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) wife and some of his companions. Shiite MP Hussein Al-Qallaf strongly lambasted the manner in which the law was passed, describing the parliamentary majority as ‘exclusionists’ as they wanted to pass laws that only suit their wishes.

The amendments still have to go through another round of voting and also get the Amir's approval before it can be signed into law, but if it does, it will put Kuwait on par with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that currently have the death penalty for blasphemy. Having to surrender your life for exercising your basic right to free speech is outrageous and any sane human being should be able to see that. You can insult someone who is currently alive, but you cannot say a word against someone who has been dead for over a thousand years. Utterly shameful!

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