Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Ihope everyone had a Merry Christmas yesterday and I hope your New Year is filled with good health, love, compassion, forgiveness and happiness - for you and your family. There has been a lot of negativity in the news recently. Two headlines particularly caught my attention - “One million expats are going to be deported” and “Celebrating Christmas is not/or is haram”. Are these real reports? Or are they exaggerated just because controversy sells?!
As a lawyer, it is very difficult for me to grasp such headlines, and this is because I was taught in law school (as one would expect) articles of the Kuwaiti constitution, as follows:
Article 29: “All people are equal in human dignity, and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction as to race, origin, language or religion.”
Article 35: “[The constitution] protects the freedom of practicing religion in accordance with established customs, provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals.”
It is as if the news is tailored to make expats feel uncomfortable in Kuwait. I have said this and I will continue to say this - a lot of people have left their homes, their traditions and their families so they can be with us and work for companies in Kuwait, and are therefore a part of our society and our economy. So we need to make them comfortable. Laws need to change in order for us to accept more traditions and religions. We are blessed to have such a diverse community, so Happy Holidays to everyone. Today I will be answering questions that have been of concern to expats in Kuwait.
Question: Is celebrating Christmas illegal in Kuwait? Fajer: No. There is no law in Kuwait that makes celebrating other religious festivals illegal. There may be bylaws that restrict celebrations in certain ways, especially in commercial areas, but there is nothing that makes it illegal.
Question: Is it true that they want to deport one million expats from Kuwait and make the number of expats in Kuwait equal to the number of Kuwaitis. Could I suddenly lose my job?
Fajer: Like I mentioned above, there has been a lot of news going around on the deportation of expats in Kuwait, and I just want to make it clear that expats cannot be deported just because they are expats. The government officials were speaking about those who are in violation of immigration law or those involved in criminal activities.
Deportation as a punishment has been more and more common in the past year, and this is why it has been focused on by the media, but if you are a law-abiding resident, you have nothing to fear. I know some companies out there are not following the law and are not providing their employees with the proper paperwork/visas, and this may have a negative effect on the employees. Please be careful and always double check that you have the proper documents.
And since it is the season of giving, remember to forgive. Going to court is not always the ideal solution. Let go of some things when you can, and be nice to those around you, regardless of their religion or background. Happy holidays!
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