Kuwaitis split over building new Catholic Church

November 3, 2010


A council decision to build a Catholic church has sparked heated debate in Kuwait.

Kuwait’s foreign ministry wants to construct a Catholic church in the Mahboola area. However, six council members have turned the request down. Only five believe that construction should go ahead.

According to a Kuwait news portal, four councilors walked out of the meeting on Monday to express their opposition to the decision and the meeting was postponed until next week.

Commenting on the situation, bloggers in Kuwait are also divided over whether or not the church should be built.

“We Muslims are allowed to build mosques in Europe, the US and elsewhere,” Bu Salem wrote on Al Aan. “We urge all Arab and Muslim governments to reciprocate and allow Christians to build their places of worship. This is only natural when people respect human dignity.

Another blogger, who calls himself Liberal, believes it’s a matter of mutual respect.
“This is unfortunate. People need to respect other religions so that our own religion gets more respect. Whenever a European country objects to the construction of a mosque, they engage in a shouting match and start screaming,” he wrote. “I do not think that the building of a church, or two, or even 10, in Kuwait will turn Kuwaitis into Christians. The problem is not with Islam, but with misinterpretations by Muslims.”

However, a blogger, writing under the pseudonym Ajmi objected. “This is a tragedy. Do we really have Christians to explain the need for more churches? All the churches we have were built by the British colonialists. In fact, we do not need any more now,” he wrote.

Another, Al Harbi said that the church in Al Ahmadi was large enough to accommodate all of the Christians in Kuwait. “Those who compare between churches and mosques are wrong,” he wrote. “We Muslims use the mosque 35 times a week, while they use it only once a week. For Muslims, praying at a mosque is an obligation, whereas for Christians it is an option.”

According to the Vicar Apostolic of Kuwait, Kuwait is home to around 200,000 Catholics, mainly migrant workers from India and the Philippines, belonging to different factions – Latin, Maronite, Greek Catholic, Coptic Catholic, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara and Chaldeans.

The largest group are people of the Latin Rite, or Western Catholic Church.

Most of the Christians come from the expatriate population in Kuwait. There is a nominal Kuwaiti Christian population of approximately 200 citizens, most of who belong to 12 large families.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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