Kuwaiti MP’s remarks on Hijab billboard spark controversy

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Safa Al-Hashem is the only female MP in Kuwait’s 50-seat National Assembly. (Courtesy Kuwait Times)
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The billboard featuring the slogan, “My hijab … makes my life better.” (Courtesy Twitter)
Updated 14 April 2018
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Kuwaiti MP’s remarks on Hijab billboard spark controversy

  • Advert part of a pro-Hijab campaign by the country’s Ministry of Endowments.
  • Al-Hashem said she would rather see the country run a campaign to strengthen national unity.

Cairo: A Kuwaiti MP has stirred nationwide controversy by criticizing a ministry advertisement aimed at encouraging women to wear the Islamic headscarf.

MP Safa Al-Hashem, the only female in the 50-seat National Assembly, tweeted a few days ago against a billboard carrying the slogan, “My Hijab … makes my life better.”

The advert is part of a pro-Hijab campaign by the country’s Ministry of Endowments.

Al-Hashem described the billboard as “strange,” despite noting that she is not against the notion of wearing the Islamic headscarf.

In a tweet, she argued that it is unacceptable for such ads to go on display in a “civil state” like Kuwait, which has a constitution “that guarantees personal freedom.”

Al-Hashem said she would rather see the country run a campaign to strengthen national unity instead, adding that she had requested the ministry to remove the roadside billboards on the topic.

Her comments landed her in hot water with religious-minded people and conservative lawmakers, who strongly lashed out at her and threatened the ministry if it agrees to take the ads down.

They responded to Al-Hashem by reminding her that Islam is the state’s official religion as per the constitution. They also added that the headwear is mandatory for Muslim women according to Islamic teachings.


Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

Updated 55 min 2 sec ago
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Illegal immigration, refugees top Arab-EU Summit agenda

  • Heads of state, officials from EU and Arab League member countries to attend summit today
  • Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries

CAIRO: Egypt on Sunday will host heads of state, government officials and representatives from EU and Arab League member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

Refugees and illegal immigration will top the agenda amid the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

Some 19.5 million people globally have been forced to flee their countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Syrians constitute the largest refugee population in Europe, followed by Eritreans then Afghans. 

According to unofficial statistics, Syrians are also the largest refugee population in the Arab world, followed by Yemenis, Libyans and Sudanese.

Hossam El-Khouli, secretary-general of the Egyptian Nation’s Future Party, said: “The EU … should call for the repatriation of refugees if conditions are appropriate.”

He said: “As for the right of asylum … a number of countries have granted asylum to criminals who have committed violent crimes against their own people and homelands.”

Summit participants intend to debate the necessity of combating this kind of migration, especially given its impact on the security and economy of many countries. 

Margaret Azer, an Egyptian lawmaker, said a country’s economic conditions are one of the main drivers of illegal immigration. 

“The decline of political conditions in several countries is (also) contributing to the rise in numbers of people seeking illegal immigration,” she told Arab News. 

“For example, we see that the biggest percentage of immigrants in Europe are from countries like Syria and Libya. The reason could also be religious or sectarian persecution, as is the case in Myanmar.”

Frontex President Fabrice Leggeri said although the number of migrants arriving in Europe dropped to 150,114 in 2018 compared to 204,750 in 2017, the agency continues to support border controls by providing more workers and technology.