'Offending' God, Quran or Muhammad Could Mean Death for Kuwait's Muslims

The Parliament of Kuwait approved a law on Thursday that stipulates capital punishment for Muslims in the country who mock Allah, the Quran, any of Islam's prophets and the wives of the faith's founder, the prophet Muhammad.

The move, approved by 40 members of Parliament and opposed by six lawmakers, is seen as an attempt to counter the rising cases of blasphemy in the Asian country.

"We do not want to execute people with opinions or thought because Islam respects these people ... But we need this legislation because incidents of cursing God have increased. We need to deter them," explained MP Ali al-Deqbasi, KUNA reported.

Although Kuwait's constitution calls for "absolute freedom" of religion and religion practice, the stipulation is that it does not conflict with public policy or morals. Islam is the official state religion, and Sharia, or Islamic law, is the main source of legislation, which prohibits Muslims from blaspheming against their religion.

The death penalty stands in effect for those who break these laws and do not repent. However, there are exceptions. Non-Muslims, while not exempt from Sharia law, can only be punished by a maximum of 10 years. First-time Muslim offenders would also be able to escape capital punishment if they repent in court, although they would have to face five years in prison and a $36,000 fine. The same loopholes would not be provided for repeat offenders, however, and they would be put on death row.

Those opposing the law, like Shiite Member of Parliament Abdulhameed Dashti, have claimed that the bill goes against the very principles of Islam and should not be accepted.

"Why are we trying to show Islam as a religion of death and blood when it is actually the opposite of that?" Dashti said.

The law will come into effect in June as soon as it is accepted by the government and signed by the emir, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

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