By Elizabeth Broomhall
Counselor Malek Al-Wazzan called for action to reduce discrimination
A Kuwaiti official has spoken out against Islamophobia, stressing the need to boost religious tolerance around the world.
Speaking at a UN Human Rights Council meeting this week, Kuwaiti counselor Malek Al-Wazzan said anti-Islamic sentiments were mounting and required urgent attention, according to state news agency KUNA.
He urged the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, to take action to reduce discrimination against Muslims, which often came in the form violence and rhetoric intended to tarnish the image of the religion.
On behalf of the country, he also stressed the need to boost principles of tolerance, equality and respect for racial, religious and cultural diversity through training and education.
According to KUNA, the Gulf state is currently in the process of rolling out special laws which prohibit religious or racial discrimination and aim to protect human rights.
One such bill is the draft national unity law, which bans segregation of people based on their skin colour, sex, religion, opinion, origin, as well as their social, sectarian or tribal affiliations.
The oil-rich country is also initiating educational programmes to encourage religious tolerance, the news agency said.
But in sharp contradiction with these efforts, reports in February said a Kuwaiti parliamentarian was also planning to submit a draft law banning the construction of churches and non-Islamic places of worship in the Gulf state, which he later retracted.
Kuwaiti MP Osama Al-Munawer clarified that he thought existing churches should remain but the construction of new non-Islamic places of worship should be banned.