Even though it was published in my German already in 2012, I here offer an English translation of a comment relating to blasphemy – in the light of the terroristic attack in Paris.
Secretly and quietly, and in the middle of the Arabellion, a law similar to that in Pakistan has been passed in State of Kuwait. Up until now, Kuwait has been a rather moderate Islamic state when compared to Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan. The law only has to be countersigned by the Emir of Kuwait in order for the death penalty to be prescribed for defaming God (Allah), the Koran, any Islamic prophet, or one of Mohammed’s wives. 41 members of Parliament voted in favor of the addition to the penal code, while 7 voted against it. According to the Kuwait news agency, Shiite representatives were among those voting against the measure. The Justice Minister and the Minister of Religious Affairs (what a convenient combination!) welcomed the decision.
This is the case, although the Constitution of the State of Kuwait proclaims “absolute freedom” of religion and the freedom to exercise religion. The starting point for this change was a semi-free parliamentary election in February, in which Islamist groups claimed a majority of the seats. Demands for the limitation on the number of Christian churches and the official introduction of Islamic Sharia are included in the parliamentary majority’s policy program. It is natural that the way for the law was paved by a list of legal opinions (“fatwas”) by Islamic scholars.
Up until now, there has been a prison sentence for this offense, whereby the judge has had a lot of leeway in each individual case. In April, the columnist Mohammed Al-Mulaifi was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and what amounted to €13,600 in fines because he allegedly slandered the Shiite minority. According to Gulf News, the official grounds for the tightening were widespread critical remarks about Mohammed in March.
Even Iran has until now not dared include the death penalty for blasphemy and apostasy in the penal code and has rather resorted to having the respective culprits simply disappear. A pursuant law was indeed passed by Parliament, but the Iranian Guardian Council did not countersign it. Only Saudi Arabia and Pakistan actually have the death penalty included as a part of the penal code.
Even if all the Christians who live in Kuwait are foreigners and, with 350,000 adherents, make up around 6% of the population, and even if they are almost automatically assumed to malign God, the Koran, and Mohammed if they as much as compare Christianity and Islam, the main victims are as always Muslims themselves. This is the case even if one does not completely believe the provision that non-Muslims should not be killed for the same offense but rather given 10-year prison sentences. It also does not help anything that first-time offenders can do penance during the court proceedings and then only receive a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of $36,000.
And as usual, Europe is silent when it comes to such appalling criminal law provisions in Islamic countries. This is the case although, when it comes to the death penalty for drug dealers, Europe has mobilized the entire world of the media and diplomacy for the benefit of drug dealers. Even Amnesty International, which is otherwise always (and correctly so) on the forefront opposing the death penalty (just recently I was a speaker at an AI event), is traditionally silent when it comes to a religion having to be criticized in concrete terms.
Commendable exceptions in their reporting are: