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Wed 18 May 2011 07:08 PM

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Kuwaiti lawmakers exchange punches during debate

Prime Minister appeals for calm after parliament session is postponed after brawl breaks out

Kuwaiti lawmakers exchange punches during debate
Kuwaiti prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. (Getty Images)

A fistfight erupted in Kuwait's parliament on Wednesday when Sunni Islamist lawmakers exchanged blows with a Shi'ite parliamentarian who labelled Kuwaitis detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as terrorists, lawmakers said.

Shi'ite pro-government lawmaker Hussein al-Qallaf made the remarks during a discussion about the fate of Kuwaitis held at the US military facility, enraging Salafist opposition lawmakers who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam.

The Salafist lawmakers attacked him, sparking a brawl when other parliamentarians rushed to defend Qallaf, lawmakers said.

The fight appeared to play out along sectarian lines in a parliament that has seen some tensions emerge between Sunni and Shi'ite lawmakers after Kuwait sent naval forces to Bahrain following Shi'ite-led protests in the Gulf Arab neighbour.

"A Kuwaiti from any sect can make mistakes, but the government and the country should provide him with a fair trial," Salafist lawmaker Waleed al-Tabtabae told reporters.

"This is a national issue, but unfortunately Qallaf wanted to break national unity and started calling them (Guantanamo detainees) terrorists and members of al Qaeda," he said.

Fellow Shi'ite lawmaker Adnan al-Mutawa defended Qallaf.

"Parliament members are free to express their views in parliament, and they should be respected," he said. "Whoever violates others for their points of views is far away from freedom and democracy."

Al Arabiya television said seven lawmakers were involved in the fight. The session was then adjourned to May 31.

"The parliament has never witnessed such an incident since it was established... This is an improper act and does not represent the parliament, nor the good relationship between us," parliament speaker Jassim al-Kharafi said, according to state news agency KUNA.

Kuwait's foreign minister said last year that the United States and Kuwait were working out differences over returning two Kuwaiti detainees being held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Shi'ites make up about a third of the 1.15 million Kuwaitis.

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Andy 9 years ago

This is the funniest thing I have ever heard "Whoever violates others for their points of views is far away from freedom and democracy." Not long ago in Kuwait this is what the Government said "Foreigners who take part in protests or demonstrations in Kuwait will be deported, a local daily reported on Friday."

This is beyond hypocrisy. One second they are for democracy and freedom and the other they will deport you if you voice your opinion or thoughts in public. Link is below from article. I hope this hypocrisy does not get censored out as this post proves and shows hypocrisy. Whether it be the people in the government or those living in Kuwait all should have the right to voice their opinions without being punished.

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/kuwait/kuwait-to-deport-foreigners-who-organise-rallies-1.753428

mumeen chowdhury 9 years ago

Excellent recapitulation and brilliant answer. Thank you Andy.

Glen 9 years ago

To answer the rhetorical question "Whoever violates others for their points of views" displays their own ingnorance as they have to use brute force to overcome reason. They are unable to articulate a response which will find any supporting from people who are able to think and reason.

Regarding demonstration in Kuwait by foriegners, it is against Kuwaiti Law and any foreigner going there should respect that law. If they have a labour dispiute it should be dealt with at the labour office.

Mark Brown 9 years ago

Isn't it the responsability of the House Speaker to control the Parliament? If they see that the MP's are loosing focus on the critical agendas of the day, then they should stop the dialogue before it gets out of control. Why was this topic approved when there are more critical topics that affect the progress of this nation? Look around your nation, are gitmo detainees really a priority? This can be discussed in other forums, with the correct parties involved, to render the determination of the gitmo detainee's status. Get focused Kuwait, you are quickly loosing credibility of ever regaining your position in the GCC! Maybe the MP's should work through the summer for the nation, considering the amount of time they have taken off when the government was dissolved, and that they have wasted on fueling personal agendas with no formative results in the development process of this nation.

Kuwaiti 9 years ago

Perfect analysis, i thought only a few of us in Kuwait were agonizing over our state of affairs.

American in Kuwait 9 years ago

Nice concept but in theory only. The Labor Office is a joke and always rules in favor of the Kuwaiti. Name anyone who is in jail for holding a worker's passport -- no one. Non-payment of wages -- no one. Beatings -- no one.

Marcel 9 years ago

Maybe the Labour Office is doing a good thing; they have not drowned in political correctness like the West where the foreigner is always right. If only the citizen had the same respect in the West as they do in Kuwait and the Gulf, then westerners would be glad in their own country. No one dies if passports are held, so lets not make a big deal about it, as a business owner, I feel the Gulf is much more business friendly than Europe, where workers rights are everything and employers have to account for everything in favor of their spoiled workers

Andy 9 years ago

Thank you Arabianbusiness for publishing this last post by Andy. Hypocrites should not be censored and the voices of people seeking true democracy should be heard. Thumbs up to Arabian Business for publishing and allowing people to voice their thoughts and opinions.