Wednesday 10 July 2024 - 03:26

What’s behind Dangerous Kuwaiti Government’s Crackdown on Muharram Mourning?

Story Code : 1146828
What’s behind Dangerous Kuwaiti Government’s Crackdown on Muharram Mourning?
Kuwait is one of the countries in which recently restrictive laws have been approved for Muharram ceremonies. 

The interior ministry earlier this week announced that the owners of the Husseiniyahs are barred from flying Husseini posters and flags and signs or establishing mawkebs (service stations) during Muharram and Safar months, warning the Shiites about organizing street mourning. 

The ministry in an X post said that the owners of the Husseiniyahs must adhere to the regulatory laws and the orders of the security forces in order to maintain everyone's safety. Only one flag without a slogan on Hosseiniyeh is allowed to be installed." 

The ministry added that establishing tents and chambers outside the Husseiniyahs for any reason is absolutely banned. It also banned any religious marches.

The ministry threatened to "deal severely with anyone who does not adhere to the regulatory laws."

Also, according to the new instructions, the security forces will be allowed to deploy inside the Husseiniyahs under the pretext of regulating traffic and maintaining security.

The General Department of Public Relations and Media of the Ministry of Interior claimed that these restrictive decisions were made based on the coordination meeting between the ministry of interior and the supervisors of Husseiniyahs and based on the instructions and recommendations of the Council of Ministers. 

Immediately after the orders were issued, security forces and municipality began to remove flags and signs of Ashura from streets and Husseiniyahs, drawing reactions from citizens who confronted government forces. 

Kuwait's Shiites unanimous in anger and criticism 

The critics of the new laws argue that the new decisions were meant to restrict the large Shiite community of the country while 40 percent (over 2 million) of citizens of Kuwait are Shiites. 

While domestic newspapers and other media do not dare to challenge the sectarian decisions of the government for fear of persecution and repression, Kuwaiti citizens express their protest on social networks such as Facebook. 

In this relation, footages circulated on social media showing the anger of the Kuwaitis with this government decision. In one of these footages, a citizen took to the street, shouting: "The house of Hussein in my house. Hussein is my grandfather." 

In another footage published on X, a citizen appeared to talk about the ban on mawkebs. 

"Every year, we place a request to the municipality, the fire department, and all officials and receive authorization for our mawkebs... This year, we ask the municipality, they refer to the interior minister, we ask the fire department, they refer to the interior minister, we ask anyone, they refer to the interior Minister. They say the interior minister oordered the mawkebs to be removed," the citizens said. 

He added that the ministers of the previous governments of Kuwait were often "tolerant and cooperated with the arrangers of the mawkebs and set special conditions for safety and fire extinguishing, and even shared the reward [of mourning of] Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) with us... But now the municipality and the security forces come without warning and remove the mawkebs." 

Prominent blogger Alhashem bin Jamal about rejecting submission to the new laws of the interior ministry said:" We have chosen this path of our own free will and we will continue to do so, even if it costs our lives. Our strength, determination, will, and slogan, O Hussain (AS), will remain at your service forever." 

He added that all indications and current events have no explanation other than that Kuwait is moving towards secularism.

"The streets witness the removal of the names of Muslim scholars and their replacement with numbers, the replacement of the names of the Companions [of Prophet Muhammad] in schools with the names of individuals, the prevention of raising the banners and flags and the raising of mourning tents in the Husseiniyahs, and the inquisition of the prayers," he maintained. 

Another citizen, named Hamad, in a Facebook post said:" Inform us of the developments in Kuwait about crackdown on the Shiites and mawkebs."

He added:"The Shiites of Kuwait are genuine citizens [of this country] and have resided [in this country] since the establishment of Kuwait, that is, they have been present along with the existence of Kuwait and they are the same age as Kuwait and they came with the others. The people who lived in this geographical area, some of them came from the Arabian Peninsula, especially the people of Al-Ahsa, where there are many Shiite tribes and families, and from the Hijaz region. Some of them came from Iraq and the Levant, some of them are from Shiite clans, and some came from Iran." 

Abu Janah, another blogger, recalled the memory of visits to Husseiniyahs of late Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, saying: "I do not know what the current emir has in his mind." 

He held:" O Imam, know that the most powerful tyrant in the world did not stop the followers of Hussein from performing their rituals. O Shiites of Kuwait, if they prevent you from raising the flag, paint the walls of your houses black." 

National Society of Shiites protests divisive activities of Salafis 

Many observers attribute the desire of Kuwait's new government authorities to suppress Ashura mournings this year to the divisive activities of the Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood groups.

In this relation, the National Society of Shiites in a statement rejected a demand by Mohammad al-Adhem, of Thawabet Al-Umah Society, for government supervision of Husseiniyahs and private mourning ceremonies under the ruse of preventing insults to the Companions [of Prophet Muhammad]. 

In this statement, Mohammad Baqer al-Mahri as the representative of the Shiite scholars called on the International Union of Muslim Scholars to dismiss Yusef al-Qaradawi as the head of Thawabet Al-Umah Society for sowing sectarian and religious divisions. Referring to the strong-toned criticism of al-Qaradawi against Iran in a recent conference in Doha, al-Mahri said that al-Qaradawi works for disunity of Muslims and division between them, and does not bring them closer." 

Long record of mourning of Shiites in Kuwait 

Accusing Shiites of involvement in foreign agenda comes as various investigations have been done about the old history of the Ashura ceremonies in Kuwait that cannot be concealed. 

For example, Islamic researcher Radhi Habib described foundation of Husseiniyahs in Kuwait of historic depth and a fruitful legacy in which even the ruling family of Al Sabah had an important role when first Husseiniyah was founded in the country in 1815. According to this Islamic scholar, during the time of Sheikh Jaber Abdullah al-Sabah, known as Jaber Al-Aish, the ruler of Kuwait at the time, the person responsible for this Husseiniyah was Ali al-Mousavi al-Khabaz and its location was in the famous village of Al-Baharna, which continues to exist to date known as Sayed Imran Husseiniyah. After that, in 1905, Haj Marafati Husseiniyah was established in Farij Al-Qibla, and another of the oldest Husseiniyahs in Kuwait that is still standing in Kuwait city in a square called Thalathat Buyut. 

Then in 1914, Husseiniyah Al-Zaynabiyah was founded. Then came Husseiniyah Al-Khazaliyah at the end of rule of Sheikh Mubarak Al-Sabah in 1918 with the help of the government and Sheikh Abdullah al-Salem. In the same year, Husseiniyah Al-Jafariyah was founded. 

Other old Husseiniyahs in Kuwait city include Lelbalush, Haj Ali Al-Shamali, Al-Tarakmeh, Sayed Hussein al-Adhab, Haj Hussein Sheshtar, Ibn Haydar, Al-Shawaf, Al-Abasiyah Haj Ali Al-Arbash, Ali Al-Khabaz, Sayed Ali, Qanem Al-Marzouk, Bu Alyan, Qanbar Al-Balushi, and Mohammad Haji.