04/15/2016, 10.20
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Kuwaiti intellectual risks blasphemy trial for defending secular state

In a television interview Sheikha al-Jassem said that the Constitution is worth more than the Koran and Sharia in regulating the lives of citizens. The Islamic extremist faction in Parliament denounced the woman for "psychological damage". The prosecutor's decision to go to trial. If convicted she faces a year in prison.


Kuwait City (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An intellectual, scholar and activist for human rights in Kuwait is likely to be tried for blasphemy after defending the secular nature of the state. The prosecutor general summoned Sheikha al-Jassem, notifying her of the charges laid against her for her words spoken during a recent television interview.

The Kuwaiti intellectual (pictured) said that the national constitution is as true as the Koran and sharia, Islamic law, in regulating the life of the country and its citizens. Now it will be up to the office of the prosecutor – which has laid the charges – to decide whether to remand the woman.

A March 8 interview given by Sheikha al-Jassem to the Kuwaiti channel Al-Shahed TV is at the root of the charges. The human rights activist was invited to speak precisely about the growth of Islamic extremism in the country and the region.

During the interview, Jassem responded to a question concerning the Islamic extremists, that religion is more important than the Constitution of Kuwait. In response, the intellectual explained that it is a "dangerous" point of view and that, in her opinion, politics and religion should be separated into two areas.

Jassem also recalled the wave of violence in the Middle East and the divisions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims within the Muslim world. In this regard she added that if people rely solely on sacred books and puts them at the center of daily life as the only fundamental source of the law, it is impossible to advance society.

Her words raised a wave of indignation within the Islamic extremist faction in parliament, including personal attacks and threats to the woman. In an interview with the BBC Jassem spoke of "terrifying" threats from "not only Kuwait but also from Saudi Arabia."

In addition to the trial, a part of the extremist Islamic world has also demanded her expulsion from the University of Kuwait, where she teaches philosophy. During the talks, the prosecutor told her that the plaintiff feels "hurt from a psychological point of view" by her statements. The first complaint could be followed by others in coming days.

In the case of a trail and condemnation, the activist faces up to a year in prison. Nevertheless, she says she wants to continue her work and remains convinced of her own ideas, and thanks for the affection and support she has received.

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