Chris­tians hail re­li­gious tol­er­ance in Kuwait

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Gar­cia

Chris­tians felt that this year was the best in Kuwait, be­cause MP Ahmad Al-Fadhl called for a public hol­i­day on Christ­mas and for set­ting up a Christ­mas tree on Safat Square. “More than any­thing else, we are grate­ful to the lead­ers of this coun­try. Kuwait is a tol­er­ant coun­try, and we re­ally hope this will push through in the com­ing years,” said a pas­tor of a Chris­tian con­gre­ga­tion in Kuwait City.

Fadhl had strongly crit­i­cized a de­ci­sion by So­cial Af­fairs and La­bor Min­is­ter Hind Al-Subaih when she or­dered to re­move a Christ­mas tree from Dasma Co­op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety, which is run by a pri­vate in­vestor. Fadhl also called for declar­ing Christ­mas a public hol­i­day and erect­ing a large Christ­mas tree on Safat Square, the largest square in down­town Kuwait City that has im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. He also pro­posed to al­low Chris­tians to mark this oc­ca­sion and al­low them to ex­change gifts and greet­ings.

Kuwait Times’ colum­nist Muna Al-Fuzai also en­cour­aged Mus­lims to greet and ex­change greet­ings with Chris­tians, ar­gu­ing it’s not ‘haram’ to greet ‘Merry Christ­mas.’ But Arnold, a Filipino con­vert to Is­lam, said Kuwait is a Mus­lim coun­try and ex­pats should re­spect this. “We al­ready have free­dom of re­li­gion here. We can see that Chris­tians are not pro­hib­ited to wor­ship in their churches. The prob­lem is, if you give too much free­dom, it might be ex­ploited,” he said. Fa­tum, a Mus­lim ex­pat, said the cel­e­bra­tion of Christ­mas in Kuwait is low-key. “In Jor­dan, which is also a Mus­lim coun­try, Christ­mas is a grand cel­e­bra­tion. They have par­ties, con­certs and food fests that don’t hap­pen in this con­ser­va­tive coun­try. A hol­i­day is fine, a Christ­mas tree is also fine, but if given more free­dom, they will ask for more,” she said. “My fam­ily cel­e­brates Christ­mas even though we are Mus­lims. It’s not about re­li­gion or fam­i­lies - it’s about strength­en­ing our re­la­tion­ship with other be­liefs, and that’s per­fectly okay,” Fa­tum said.

There are around 200 Kuwaiti Chris­tians, along with hun­dreds and thou­sands of for­eign Chris­tians in this coun­try. The state is also home to ma­jor churches and Christ­mas is ob­served with­out any prob­lems.

KUWAIT: Em­manuel Gharib, Chair­man of the Na­tional Evan­gel­i­cal Church Kuwait and Pas­tor of the Kuwait Pres­by­te­rian Church, leads a Christ­mas mass at a church in Kuwait City on De­cem­ber 24, 2016. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

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