KUWAIT CITY, Oct. 1 (UPI) —
Kuwait has begun revoking citizenship of Kuwaiti nationals in a move to discourage political dissent.
The oil-rich Persian Gulf country is regarded as relatively free politically, with legislators unafraid to publicly condemn what they regard as official corruption within the monarchy. The new policy, directed largely at those who disagree with the government and display it by attending protest rallies, is encouraging fear of free expression, and confusing the line between allegiance and sedition.
Among the 18 people who were stripped of citizenship Tuesday was Saad Al Ajmi, opposition figure with the Popular Action Bloc and former news correspondent of the Al Arabiya channel. He commented on social media, "In my grave the angels will ask me ‘who is your God, who is your prophet, what is your faith’, but they will not ask me ‘what is your citizenship.’"
Over 25 other people had had their Kuwaiti citizenship revoked prior to Tuesday’s actions, the state news agency reported. Analysts have suggested that, as tensions rise in Kuwait over dissent and the global focus remains on war with the Islamic State, Kuwait is behaving more like some of its more repressive neighbors.
"They are sending a message (that) there are no limits," said Sulaiman al-Jassem, a Kuwaiti human rights lawyer himself facing charges.
Revocation of citizenship has become an element in the fight against global terrorism in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain stripped 31 people of their citizenship in 2012, including political activists and former Parliament members, and Monday revoked the citizenship, and gave life imprisonment sentences, to nine men convicted of smuggling arms into the country.
"Now the trend is counterrevolution, and they are dismantling liberal measures they had taken before," said Claire Beauregard of the research center French Institute for the Near East said, adding the repression typically comes with government comment about devotion to country, of "who is loyal and who is not."