KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti Islamist MP presented a request yesterday to question the Gulf state’s only woman minister, a liberal who has been under hardline fire for refusing to wear a head scarf.
Nouriya Al Subeeh had stirred the anger of Islamist MPs when she took the oath in parliament in April without wearing a head cover in line with strict Muslim laws. Since then she has been under scrutiny by Islamist MPs and could be dismissed if the grilling
leads to a parliamentary no-confidence motion against her.
Saad Al Sharie said in the request that financial and administrative irregularities at the education ministry had raised questions about Subeeh’s ability to head the ministry. He also accused Education Minister breaching the law in connection with several high profile appointments and dismissals.
He said she was responsible for ‘serious deterioration’ in education standards and blamed her over an incident in which four Asian workers stand accused of molesting three Kuwaiti boys at a primary school.
A decade ago Kuwait’s elected parliament passed a law enforcing total segregation of male and female students.
Liberal MPs have dismissed the attacks against her as politically-motivated. “She is a strong woman with clear plans to reform the educational system. Islamists don’t like this,” said Nabila Al Anjeri, women rights activist.
When Nouriya Al Subeeh first took office, sans headscarf, an article noted that “When MPs passed a law granting women full political rights in May 2005, they attached a precondition requiring women to abide by Islamic Sharia regulations, which have never been detailed.” Legislators like Al Sharie may now be looking to exploit this vague provision, concerning either gender segregation in schools, the issue of the hijab, or both.
Political analyst Ali Al Baghli, agreed, “The grilling is personal because she wears no veil. But she’s one of the most capable ministers and if she resigns it would be a setback for the reform plans.”