Two Islamist members of the Kuwaiti parliament created a stir after the first disdained the country’s flag and the second refused to acknowledge the national anthem.
Islamist MP Walid al-Tabtabei described the Kuwaiti flag as a “rag” in a parliamentary session discussing Kuwait’s inability to raise its flag in sports events because of FIFA penalties.
“I don’t care if the flag is raised in the Olympics or anywhere else. A flag is only a rag,” he said. “Citizens should raise their heads up high when they defend God and his Prophet.”
On the other hand, Islamist MP Mohammed Hayef al-Mutairi refused to stand up during the national anthem at an event to mark the inauguration of a hospital. Mutairi has been taking this stance for the past four years on the grounds that respecting the national anthem is not an Islamic duty.
In response to the MPs’ actions, a group of youth, accompanied by three MPs, launched a campaign under the title “Our flag is our dignity.” Members of the campaign gathered to kiss the flag and raise then sing the national anthem.
When asked about the reasons for his stance against the national anthem, Mutairi said it is based on religious grounds.
“According to fatwas issued by several senior scholars, a Muslim is not obliged to stand for the national anthem,” he told Al Arabiya on Tuesday.
Mutairi said that those who protested his actions are a minority and do not represent the Kuwaiti people.
“Even the MPs who took to the streets with them do not represent the parliament. They have already committed offences and will soon be out of the parliament after court sentences are issued against them.”
Mutairi said he wished protestors had saved their energy for defending Islamic principles.
Following the controversy over what was seen as his disrespect of the flag, Tabtabei said in a statement that he did not mean to insult the flag as was understood.
“I meant to say that raising the flag in the Olympics is not important when compared to other crucial matters like defending religion.”
For MP Nabil al-Fadl, both Mutairi and Tabtabei have offended the Kuwaiti people.
“They insulted the flag and the anthem which are symbols of the homeland and for them several martyrs have fallen,” he told the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Watan.
According to Mohamed al-Tabtabei, former dean of the School of Islamic Law at the University of Kuwait, saluting the flag is an organizational activity that does not involve any form of worship.
“Some scholars like Abdul Aziz bin Baz and Abdullah bin Ghedian prohibited standing for the flag or the anthem, but at the end of the day, it is a matter that is open to interpretation,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)