Kuwait: jihadism punishable with up to 30 years in prison

Proposed anti-terrorism bill follows Saudi example

10 February, 19:35

    General view over the Kuwaiti parliament (archive) General view over the Kuwaiti parliament (archive)

    (by Alessandra Antonelli) (ANSAmed) - DUBAI - Kuwaiti lawmakers are debating an anti-terrorism bill that would punish anyone enlisting in foreign wars or aiding and abetting such enlistment with up to 30 years in prison and 80,000-euro fines.

    The implicit aim of the bill is to prosecute Kuwait nationals taking part in the civil war in Syria, local analysts said. The bill presented by pro-government MP Nabil al-Fadhl, an outspoken opponent of hardline Islamists, also calls for prosecuting affiliates or sympathizers of extremist political, religious, or intellectual groups, both local and regional.

    The draft law would also prosecute anyone promoting, supporting, or overtly sympathizing with the activities of extremist groups, even just verbally, Al Watan newspaper reported. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz last week signed into law a similar bill, which had been ratified in December, and which makes anyone who sympathizes with radical political and religious movements, or who fights in overseas wars, punishable with 3-20 years in prison.

    The Saudi law also makes ''disturbing the peace'', ''damaging the reputation of the State'', and ''threatening the unity of the kingdom'' a criminal offence.

    Human rights activists criticized the measure as so broad and vague as to be applicable to all political dissent, including activities that have nothing to do with terrorism.

    At least 12 human rights and political activists have been jailed in Saudi Arabia in the past two years.

    In Kuwait, the debate has just begun. A commission made up of interior ministry delegates has been appointed to draw up a list of individuals, groups, and movements who are known supporters of armed tactics. Once approved by the government, the list will be released to the media.

    The move follows on a New York Times report in November, documenting the money trail from Kuwaiti charitable organizations to pro-Assad forces in Syria. Kuwait replied at the time that the money came from hard-to-control private donations. (ANSAmed).

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