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Kuwaiti women ministers breach law over 'hijab'

MPs urge Prime Minister to dismiss violators

The appointment of two Kuwaiti women ministers breached the constitution and the law because they do not wear the hijab (headscarf), the Bahrain Tribune reported on Tuesday.

The newspaper mentioned that a panel in Kuwait's conservative parliament unanimously decided on Sunday that appointing the two ministers in the cabinet violated article 82 of the constitution.

"The committee decided that appointing the two ministers in the cabinet violated both article 82 of the constitution and article one of the election law for failing to abide by Islamic regulations," Ali Al Hajeri MP, spokesman for the Legal and Legislative Committee, said, as quoted by the Bahrain Tribune.

The four members of the seven-member panel who attended Sunday’s meeting are all Islamists, according to the newspaper report, and the remaining three are liberal-leaning MPs.

The two female members of government -- Education Minister Nuriya Al Sebih and Housing and Administrative Development State Minister Mudhi Al Humoud -- were appointed to the cabinet following the May 17 general elections.

Bahrain Tribune said that if the panel’s decision is approved by parliament, MPs can either call on the Prime Minister to dismiss the two ministers or take a more serious action of grilling the two women as a prelude to voting them out of office.

As cabinet members took the oath on June 1st, nine Islamist and tribal MPs walked out of parliament in protest at the two women’s failure to wear the Islamic hijab.

The oil-rich Gulf state’s election law requires women to "abide by Islamic regulations while voting or contesting the elections".

Kuwaiti women were granted political rights in May 2005, the Bahraini newspaper said. Fifty-four female candidates contested the last two general elections but none was elected.