Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Kuwaiti female MPs must wear hijab"

Four women were recently elected to be members of parliament in Kuwait.

Two of them do not cover their hair.

This brings up an interesting problem:

The controversy over whether the four female members of the National Assembly should wear the hijab is likely to be revived soon after the Ministry of Islamic Affairs ruled yesterday that wearing the hijab is an obligation for Muslim women. The fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by the Fatwa Authority on the basis of a parliamentary question by Salafist MP Mohammad Hayef about whether wearing the hijab by Muslim women is one of rules of sharia law.

The Fatwa Authority stated that Muslim women are obliged to wear the hijab in front of men not related to them. Hayef sent the question to the Fatwa Authority after the opening of the previous term of the National Assembly in June and after Islamist MPs exchanged accusations with two of the four women MPs not wearing the hijab and their supporters.

Islamist MPs insisted that the female MPs were obliged by the election law to wear the hijab. The election law states that women must abide by the rules of sharia while participating in elections as a candidate or voter. Two of the four women MPs wear the hijab.
Luckily, it appears that Kuwaiti law is not obligated to listen to the fatwa:

But MPs and observers later said that even though the Fatwa Authority has ruled to make wearing hijab an obligation, wearing the hijab for the women lawmakers will not be compulsory. This is because the only authority entrusted to interpret laws and constitutional articles is the constitutional court and the Fatwa Authority ruling can simply be used as a reference.
I have a feeling that the Islamist MPs will not take this sitting down.