“In Kuwait, too many women are scorned”: Souheila Al-Jaada writes in the Daily Star, with thanks to LA Hutton:
Written on huge banners canvassing hundreds of town hall meetings organized by Islamists all across Kuwait is the following
statement: “According to Islamic Sharia, women do not have political
rights.” This is part of a concerted effort by Muslim conservatives to stem a potential wave of reform in the country after Parliament, in a first round of voting, passed a bill granting women the right to vote and run in municipal elections.
The Islamists’ plan worked. In the second round of voting in the middle of last week, the reform-minded government, which wrote the legislation, could not muster the majority votes needed to pass the bill. So, the Kuwaiti Parliament decided to delay consideration of the law and the government has now agreed to submit a new elections bill without a clause allowing women to vote.
This budding democratic process in Kuwait should be applauded, despite the fact that women’s suffrage was rejected as result of Islamist political maneuvering. But what is disturbing about what happened is that Islamic conservatives are now sacrificing their own religion in order to win political battles and maintain traditions unrelated to Islam.
By holding their town hall meetings, conservative groups manipulated Islamic law, or Sharia, to persuade the public and legislators that giving women political rights was anti-Islamic. This came in response to the Kuwaiti government’s launch of a major public relations campaign in support of the draft law. The government has come under greater pressure from Western countries to implement democratic reforms.
Ironically, in an interview with MBC television, the chairman of the Kuwaiti Parliament’s human rights committee, Walid Tubtabi, came out against giving women their full political rights. “Islamic Sharia only allows men to govern a state. Despite this, we believe that women have the right to vote for candidates, and choose representatives,” Tubtabi said. “She has the right to criticize, to oppose and to give her opinion, according to the Sharia. But we are against them running in the Parliament.”
However, more moderate officials hold a different view. Energy Minister Sheikh Ahmed Fahd has spoken in favor of the law. “It’s time for citizenship to be uniform and for Kuwait to play its role in providing democracy and freedom to women.” he said.
Hundreds of Kuwaiti women stormed the Parliament last month to attend the debate on the bill. Outside the building, others held demonstrations demanding their rights and holding banners that read, “Women’s Rights Now” and “Women are Kuwaiti too.” Yet as the polemics continued, it seemed that the women who would be most affected by this law had, until recently, remained on the sidelines of the political debate, according to political activist, Nada al-Matwaa. “We are trying to influence some people,” Matwaa told Abu Dhabi TV. “Some members of Kuwaiti craft and women’s associations are working, but they should be doing more.”…
Yes. Women’s organizations around the world should be doing more about Sharia.