After speaking at the Vienna Forum in Austria on May 8, I traveled to Geneva, where through the kind offices of the Association for World Education and human rights activist David G. Littman, I was able to get into the Belly of the Beast and witness some of the proceedings.
It was the same day that Kuwait delivered its national report to the UN General Assembly Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review. This amounted to a report delivered by the country in question (Belarus was also up for this examination on that day), followed by comments by various other national representatives on the human rights situation in the country up for review.
This created some ghastly ironies, with Sudan, for example, commenting and making recommendations about the human rights situation in Belarus, but what I found most interesting was Kuwait’s initial report, which contains a number of statements indicating that Sharia is supreme in Kuwait — resulting in a precarious human rights situation for women and non-Muslims. But the wording was subtle, and of course none of the other state representatives picked up on any of this.
Here is a key example of that, from Kuwait’s report:
Freedom of religion and belief
Article 2 of the Constitution of Kuwait states: “The State religion is Islam and the sharia is the main source of legislation. Laws are enacted in conformity with the sharia.” Article 35 of the Constitution stipulates: “Freedom of belief is absolute. The State protects the freedom to practise religion in accordance with established customs and without prejudice to public order and public morals.”
Based on this premise, the State grants the followers of all denominations of the revealed religions the freedom to practise their religion and to establish their own places of worship without any interference or restrictions, subject only to the maintenance of public order.
Subject only to the maintenance of public order is the key phrase here, for under that rubric enter in all of Sharia’s restrictions on non-Muslim religious expression. Consequently we read in the 2009 International Religious Freedom Report for Kuwait that “religious minorities experienced some discrimination as a result of governmental policies and non-Sunni Muslims continued to find it difficult or impossible to obtain legal permission to establish new places of worship.” Prohibiting non-Muslims to establish new places of worship is entirely in accord with Sharia.
And so it was just another day at the UN in Geneva, where unreality generally prevails: