JAFFA, Israel – A Kuwaiti professor and human rights activist may face criminal charges after she said in an interview that the constitution should take precedence over Islamic law.
Speaking to a Kuwaiti media outlet, Shaikha al-Jassem criticized the Islamists’ demand to revoke the country’s constitution and enact Islamic religious law in its place as “dangerous,” and said that politics and religion should be clearly separated.
In the interview, which was focused on the rise of radical Islam, Jassem talked about sectarian violence in the Middle East and said that relying on religious scriptures would not benefit the people of the region. She said that all legislation should derive from the constitution only.
Following the interview, which received major media attention in Kuwait, she was reportedly summoned to a hearing at the state prosecutor’s office on suspicion of offending Islam. She was told that the complainant was “personally offended by her statements.” Outraged MPs demanded she be suspended from her teaching position at the Department of Philosophy at Kuwait University.
If indicted, Jassem could face up to one year’s imprisonment.
With 21 seats in parliament out of 50, Islamists are very influential in Kuwaiti politics. A few months ago, they clinched their 37th consecutive victory in elections to the national student council.