Islamist MPs target women in swimsuits

KUWAIT: Five Islamist MPs have proposed a one-year jail term and a fine of KD1,000 for women who wear swimsuits at public beaches and who show parts of their body in public. The bill, submitted by MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabai, Faisal Al-Muslim, Khaled Al-Sultan, Falah Al-Sawwagh and Jamaan Al-Harbash, calls to add a new article to the penal code to curb immoral behavior.In the explanatory note, MPs said that immoral practices have increased at the beaches and since there is no clear law, coastguards have been unable to deal with moral violations. Liberal MP Aseel Al-Awadhi swiftly deplored the proposal as an infringement on personal freedom and a violation of the country’s constitution. She said that the bill is also discriminatory since it is only targeting women and does not apply to men, adding that if it is passed in the assembly, it will be unconstitutional.Meanwhile, the National Assembly is set to debate today a crucial request by the public prosecution to lift the immunity of opposition MP Faisal Al-Muslim so he can be interrogated for showing a copy of a cheque issued by the prime minister for a former MP during an assembly session. To be accepted, the request must be approved by a majority vote in the assembly in which all cabinet ministers can participate. A large majority of lawmakers are set to oppose the request on the grounds that it breaches the constitution which guarantees the freedom of expression for MPs under the assembly chamber.

Based on an unconfirmed account, close to 40 out of the 50-member house are expected to oppose the request which was described by opposition MPs as an attempt to undermine the status of the 1962 constitution and an attempt to prevent MPs from freely expressing their opinions under the assembly chamber. A group of former MPs, writers and academics issued a statement yesterday calling on MPs to firmly reject the public prosecution request, saying that lifting the immunity amounts to undermining the status of the constitution.The statement said that lifting the immunity means scrapping the supervisory powers of the national assembly which is a key part of the constitution. They also stressed that the aim of the move is to silence other MPs from exercising their roles under the constitution. The lawsuit against MP Muslim was filed by Burgan Bank which claimed its interests have been harmed when Muslim showed a copy of the premier’s cheque which was issued through the bank. The debate over the request is expected to be very tense with many MPs expected to attack the government.In another development, the National Assembly financial and economic affairs committee yesterday discussed a government-sponsored draft law for combating money laundering and terror funding, rapporteur of the panel said. MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari said that the committee decided to return the bill to the government to separate it into two bills, one dealing with money laundering and the other tackling terror funding.

Anjari said that committee members found no objection to the money laundering bill but added that they rejected parts of the terror funding bill since there is no clear definition for terrorism. He said terror definition could differ from a country to another, where in some countries what is seen as terror funding could be seen as charity donations in others. Anjari said the committee received a note from Islamist MP Khaled Al-Sultan saying that certain articles of the terror funding bill in fact violate the constitution.Meanwhile, a number of MPs criticized Municipality Minister Fadhel Safar for forcing three senior Kuwaiti legal advisors to go on retirement in violation of the law which allows them to continue in their jobs until the age of 70. MPs were speaking to a number of lawyers at the legal department of the municipality who staged a protest sit-in at the national assembly yesterday in support of their colleagues – Kuwaittimes