Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 04:56 am (KSA) 01:56 am (GMT)

Kuwait asks Interpol to arrest Shiite cleric

Habib is a British citizen and lives in London
Habib is a British citizen and lives in London

The Kuwait government asked Interpol to arrest and hand over an exiled Shiite man after it had stripped him of citizenship after remarks he made about prominent Islamic figures, Kuwait’s Al-Anba newspaper reported.

Kuwait resorted to the Interpol one day after issuing a resolution to withdraw the Kuwaiti citizenship from Yasser Habib, who made derogatory statements about Aisha, Prophet Mohamed’s wife and several of the prophet’s companions, the rding to the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

 We resorted to Interpol based on a request from Kuwait's general prosecutor to bring Habib to justice in Kuwait 
Kuwaiti Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Khaled

The Kuwait government said it revoked Habib’s citizenship because he holds a British passport, something it described as against the laws of Kuwait. The decision was welcomed by Kuwaitis inside and outside the country. It did not mention the move had anything to do with Habib’s statements against the prophet’s wife.

If arrested, Habib would face charges of "deriding religious symbols and sowing the seeds of sedition among Kuwaitis, and inciting sectarian strife," said Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Rawdan al-Rawdan in a statement.

Kuwaiti Minister of Interior Sheikh Jaber al-Khaled gave to the cabinet meeting a detailed account of the procedures taken by his ministry to make sure Habib is brought to trial for his perceived offences against Islam.

Khaled added that several court rulings were previously issued against Habib after being found guilty of inciting social instability and harming the country’s national interests.

“We resorted to Interpol based on a request from Kuwait's general prosecutor to bring Habib to justice in Kuwait,” he told the cabinet.

Regarding the British passport, Khaled pointed out that Habib has been using it all the time in his travels and that he himself admitted to doing that.

“Therefore, we decided not to renew his Kuwaiti passport.”

Salafi Alliance slams Habib

In the meantime, the Islamic Salafi Alliance in Kuwait announced suspending a series of seminars intended to respond to Habib’s statements against the prophet’s wife and companions after the latter’s citizenship was revoked.

However, the alliance stressed that revoking the citizenship is not enough and that Habib has to be brought back and tried.

“We also call for the formation of a special parliamentary committee to investigate the circumstances under which Habib was smuggled out of Kuwait and prosecute all those involved,” said the statement issued by the Salafi movement.

The movement also called upon the Kuwaiti government to file lawsuits against Habib in both Kuwaiti and British courts.

(Translated from the Arabic by Sonia Farid)

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