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25 April 2024

Liberal Kuwaiti lawmaker receives death threat

By Agencies
A liberal Kuwaiti lawmaker attempting to reverse his country's 12-year-old ban on coeducation received a telephone death threat, his secretary confirmed Wednesday.

Deputy Ali al-Rashed on Tuesday proposed a bill to remove the ban on men and women taking classes together in the oil-rich emirate's universities and the same day an angry man left a threatening message at his office.

"If he doesn't withdraw the bill, seven bullets will settle the matter," his secretary Salah al-Sawwagh described the caller as saying in the course of an insult-filled rant.

Al-Rashed himself could not be reached for comment, but parliament's speaker, Jassem al-Kharafi, condemned the threat and said the perpetrator would soon be apprehended.

"If there is anyone who disagrees with Ali al-Rashed and his ideas, they still have to respect him and his right to propose any bill he wants," the official Kuwait News Agency quoted the speaker as saying Wednesday.

Conservative lawmakers pushed through the ban on the sexes learning together at the state university and technical colleges in 1996 and then four years later, when foreign universities were allowed to open branches in the Kuwait, they extended the ban to those institutions as well.

Kuwait's powerful fundamentalist parliamentary bloc believe the mixing of the sexes, especially teenagers, contradicts strict Islamic values, and they have recently said they want to extend the ban to foreign primary and secondary schools, the way the government ones already are.

University teachers and officials have complained it has been difficult and costly to teach male and female students separately.

"Banning coeducation does not necessarily mean preserving values and morality," said the bill proposed by al-Rashed and two other liberal lawmakers.

No date has been set for a debate, but it is expected to spark a major battle between the conservative and liberal factions in this close US ally.  (AP)