Robert Hussein, a Kuwaiti citizen, may be wishing for another Iraqi occupation. After converting to Christianity, Hussein was put on trial for apostasy in an Islamic court, which quickly found him guilty. Although Kuwait’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, it imposes no penalty on a Muslim who kills a man found guilty of apostasy. While Hussein still has the ostensible right to practice his religion openly, he fears for his life and has gone into hiding in Kuwait. It is not in the interests of the New World Order to investigate cases like this too closely, for Hussein’s case and many others suggest that in liberated Kuwait some creeds are more equal than others.
Hussein has found a champion in the Rutherford Institute, which has publicized his story and asked both Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Amir Shaikh Jabar Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to do something to save him. “I fear for my life and the lives of more than 1,000 other Christians in Kuwait,” Hussein told the Rutherford Institute, an international legal organization that seeks to protect religious freedom. Hussein finds little comfort in promises from Kuwait’s embassy in America that his life is safe, since Kuwait’s constitution declares open season on apostates.
It may be small comfort to Hussein and other Christians in Kuwait, but the new Kuwaiti regime has been just as zealous in persecuting other religious minorities as in punishing Christians. According to a Human Rights Watch report published earlier this year, the Kuwaiti government has repeatedly used Iraqi threats and provocations (i.e., brief incursions by Iraqi troops across the border) as an excuse to mistreat minorities seen as holding “pro-Iraq” sentiments. The large Palestinian and Bedoon (stateless Arab) populations in Kuwait are still seen as having been supportive of the Iraqi occupiers, despite the large numbers of men and women in both communities who fought in the resistance. As a result, their freedoms are severely constricted. Particularly hard hit are the Bedoons, who have been shut out of their traditional occupations in the police and military, barred from sending their children to state-run schools, and confined to a few dismal slums.
At other times, the Bedoons’ punishment takes a more palpable form. In 1995 the police rounded up hundreds of “undesirable” Bedoons and placed them without charge in the Talha Deportation Prison. The Bedoons then had the choice of leaving Kuwait or remaining in the overcrowded jail, which was originally built as a schoolhouse. In protest, the Talha inmates went on a hunger strike, which finally resulted in some efforts to improve their conditions. A majority of the Bedoons in Kuwait have lived there for their entire lives, but harassment and intimidation have driven roughly half of their community of 300,OOO from the country.
Kuwait’s Palestinian community has also shrunk from about 400,000 to 33,000, thanks to official policies which include employment discrimination, a fine imposed on Palestinians for every day they remain in the country, as well as more direct methods of intimidation. Middle East Watch (in A Victory Turned Sour: Human Rights in Kuwait Since Liberation) has tried to bring attention to cases such as that of Kalil Bahour, a Palestinian who directed the Umin al-Haiman Secondary School in Kuwait. Arrested by the police without warning or explanation, Bahour disappeared from sight. His wife later heard from the police that he was ill and had been taken to al-Addan Hospital. Upon reaching the hospital, Bahour’s relatives found that he had died ten days before from what must have been a very bizarre illness—he showed signs of having been tortured with a sharp weapon, and his nose and ears were cut off. Yet his death certificate said that he had succumbed to a heart attack and kidney failure.
Don’t expect the White House to denounce Kuwait’s mistreatment of its religious minorities. In Kuwait, it is not Afrikaaners oppressing blacks but Muslims persecuting Christians and others who have failed to achieve official status as victims.