Kuwait strips controversial religious figure of his nationality
Kuwait on Monday stripped Yasser Al Habeeb, a controversial religious figure, of his citizenship, accusing him of committing heinous crimes that prejudiced Kuwaitis and Muslims and threatened social peace.
The citizenship revocation decision was based on Article 13 of the 1959 Kuwaiti Citizenship Law, the government said following its weekly session.
“The government agreed to revoke the Kuwaiti nationality of Yasser Yahya Abdullah Habib Ghulam Al Habeeb and of those who acquired it through their association with him,” a government spokesman said. “The government has also requested the competent authorities to launch legal procedures against Al Habeeb for his heinous crimes,” the spokesman said.
Al Habeeb who lives in London where he has exiled himself since 2004 has caused divisive social problems after he hosted a ceremony in his London office in August to make disparaging remarks against Aisha, Prophet Mohammad’s wife.
Aisha is venerated by Muslims as the Mother of Believers and Al Habeeb’s insults to her integrity and honour triggered vociferous protests and rallies by Kuwaitis.
However, in making the decision to strip Al Habeeb of his citizenship, the Kuwaiti government did not directly refer to the London insults or to Al Habeeb’s sect. Observers believe that the government’s cautious explanations sought not to deepen rifts between Sunnis and Shiites and to disassociate Al Habeeb from Kuwaiti Shiites who condemned his behavior.
Last week’s calls by Sunni leaders to the government to take stringent action against Al Habeeb, including stripping him of his nationality, prompted Shiite leaders to press for equally strong attitudes towards people guilty of making negative remarks about Shiites.
The ominously growing sectarian rift led the government on Sunday to ban rallies and public gatherings amid promises that it would tackle the situation and preserve social peace and stability.
The Constitutional Islamic Movement and other groups that had planned rallies on Tuesday evening have cancelled them following the government’s decision.