Kuwait’s Twitter-spurred death penalty for blasphemy inches closer

Insulting the prophet Muhammad or God is one signature away from being punishable by death in Kuwait. 

After a Kuwaiti man was arrested over allegedly blasphemous tweets, Islamist members of parliament in the country proposed tougher laws, including the death penalty, for such comments. Now those proposals have taken a step closer to becoming law.

Lawmakers rubber stamped the legal amendment to the penal code in a second reading of the proposal, after receiving initial approval last month. Insulting the prophet Muhammad or God is not punishable by death just yet, though. The amendment needs approval from Kuwait's ruler before it’s made into law.

The amendment will apply the death penalty only for Muslims, who account for around 85 percent of Kuwait’s 2.6 million population. It was supported by 40 members of Kuwait’s national assembly, while six opposed it.

The approved draft includes a new clause, meaning the death penalty can only be applied if a guilty party stands behind their blasphemous comments in front of a judge. If defendants repent, they will instead face a prison sentence and a fine.

Currently, blasphemy is a criminal offense under the publications law and under Kuwait’s penal code as slander or libel. It carries a jail term, with one Twitter user being recently jailed for seven years over blasphemous tweets.

Photo via YouTube

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