Kuwait strips Shiite of citizenship for sectarian remarks
Kuwait has stripped an exiled Shiite man of his citizenship, accusing him of provoking sectarian tensions and defaming Islam by insulting a wife of the Prophet Muhammad, reported Kuwaiti newspapers Tuesday.
At the recommendation of Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber Khaled al- Sabah, the Kuwaiti cabinet decided Sunday to strip Shiite cleric Yasser al-Habib of his citizenship for "undermining Kuwait's national interests and social system," according to the English daily Kuwait Times, DPA reported.
The government said that his remarks prompted the Ministry of the Interior to ban all public gatherings on Monday.
In an online video recorded from his office in London, al-Habib said that the Prophet Muhammad's wife Aisha, who is a widely revered figure in Islam, poisoned the prophet to death on orders from her father.
According to al-Habib's website, the Kuwait government asked Interpol to arrest and hand him over. Interpol had rejected the request.
Also, not all members of Kuwait's parliament agreed with the cabinet's decision to strip al-Habib of his citizenship for his remarks.
The Kuwait Times reported that Shiite member of Parliament Saleh Ashour warned that withdrawing a citizenship for religious or political reasons was dangerous and would open the door for groups to pressure and blackmail parliament.
Out of some 1.1 million Kuwaitis, nearly one-third are Shiite. There are nine Shiite members in the 50-seat parliament and two Shiites in cabinet.
The outspoken al-Habib had been living in London since 2004, after he was released following a three-month stint in a Kuwaiti prison. Al-Habib was already facing two 10-year prison terms in Kuwait for remarks he had previously made about other historic Islamic figures.
In nearby Bahrain, a Shiite cleric with close ties to Iraq and Iran was stripped of his citizenship there on Sunday. Ayatollah Hussein al-Najati was a dissident and an outspoken critic of the Bahraini government. The move came a few weeks ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.