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Kuwait Institutes Death Penalty for Blasphemy

Muslims men praying at Damascus Gate

Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir/ Flash90

Kuwaiti lawmakers have passed a legal amendment authorizing the death penalty for Muslims who curse their God or the Quran, or who defame their Prophet Mohammed or his wife. In the amended article, if the defendant publicly repents and apologizes for the crime, the penalty will be reduced to five years in jail, a fine of 10,000 Kuwaiti Dinars (KD), or both.

The approved article states that non-Muslims who commit the same crime face at least 10 years in jail. Some MPs demanded the death penalty should also apply to them as well. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan boast the same death penalty law for blasphemy. In other Muslim countries, there are different interpretations to executing people who are outspoken and have different opinion. The Islamic states also never tolerate apostasy, conversion, or freedom from religion.

Islam is a belief. It is not clear in any Muslim country why a man before a court in any Muslim country would be termed Muslim if he does not believe in the religion, or possibly any religion, just because he happened to be born into a home in which Islam happened to be the religion of the family living there.

Overriding Kuwaiti disapproval, international human rights organizations, including the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), expressed deep concern. The Chairman of USCIRF, Leo Leonard, said he judged these penalties as alarming and contrary to international human rights standards.

As the commission recognizes the Quran as a holy script for the Muslims, however, the question arises as to how the commission can feel concerned about the new law if the law has been derived from the Quranic instructions of which they ostensibly approve?

Although most Islamists formally say that the Quran itself does not prescribe any earthly punishment for apostasy, in fact Sharia Law and Islamic schools of jurisprudence strongly advocate that an apostate must be either executed or imprisoned until he or she re-converts to Islam. In the last 1400 years, Islam has been always harsh and brutal to non-believers, apostates, and people who might have different opinions. Here is what Quran says on these issues:

–But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them (4:89).

–Therefore, we stirred among them [unbelievers] enmity and hatred, which shall endure till the Day of Resurrection, when Allah will declare to them all that they have done (5:14).

–O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; they are friends of each other. Those of you who make them his friends are one of them. God does not guide an unjust people (5:54).

–Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme (8:39).

–O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there are 20 steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish 200; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding (8:65).

–It is not for any Prophet to have captives until he has made slaughter in the land (8:67).

–Allah will humble the unbelievers. Allah and His apostle are free from obligations to idol-worshipers. Proclaim a woeful punishment to the unbelievers (9:2-3)

–When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them (9:5).

–Believers! Know that idolators are unclean (9:28).

–Fight those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, nor what has been forbidden by God and his messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are People of the Book, until they pay the tribute and have been humbled. The unbelievers are impure and their abode is hell. Humiliate the non-Muslims to such an extent that they surrender and pay tribute (9:29).

–Whether unarmed or well-equipped, march on and fight for the cause of Allah, with your wealth and your persons (9:41).

–O Prophet! Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Be harsh with them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey’s end (9:73).

–Allah has purchased of their faithful lives and worldly goods, and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for His cause, kill and be killed (9:111).

–Fight unbelievers who are near to you  [Different translation: Believers! Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you; Another source: Ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers....] (9:123).

About the Author: Mohshin Habib, an expert on the effects of religion on Bangladesh, currently resides in Dhaka, and is fluent in English, German, Bengali and Hindi.


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Kuwaiti lawmakers have passed a legal amendment authorizing the death penalty for Muslims who curse their God or the Quran, or who defame their Prophet Mohammed or his wife. In the amended article, if the defendant publicly repents and apologizes for the crime, the penalty will be reduced to five years in jail, a fine of 10,000 Kuwaiti Dinars, or both. The approved article states that non-Muslims who commit the same crime face at least 10 years in jail.

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