Kuwait protests following Trump's Jerusalem move in a rare show of defiance

Kuwait protests following Trump's Jerusalem move in a rare show of defiance
Kuwaitis abided by the state's strict protesting laws to show their defiance against US President Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
3 min read
10 December, 2017
Kuwaitis gathered in Irada Square to show their solidarity with Palestine [Getty]
Dozens of Kuwaitis took part in a protest on Saturday denouncing US President Trump's decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The peaceful protest was authorised, however it was a rare show of political expression in the Gulf state.

Demonstrators gathered outside the National Assembly in Kuwait City's Irada Square, holding up banners declaring "Jerusalem is an eternal Palestinian capital" and "Terrorism is an American business".

The call to protest had been made by several political groups, including the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and civil society associations.

A "Wanted" poster of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was torched by one protester and trampled on by others.

Authorities allowed protests at Irada Square and outside the Palestinian embassy in Kuwait City, but banned any demonstration near the American embassy.

Speakers urged Kuwait and Arab governments to pressure Trump to reverse his controversial decision, which has sparked protests across the Arab and Muslim world.

Louloua al-Mulla, head of Kuwait's Women's Cultural and Social Society, said the rally was aimed at "voicing the anger of the Kuwaiti people" at Trump's move.

"Trump's decision is unfair. Civil society groups in Kuwait denounce it," she said.

Kuwait's parliament is due to hold a special session on Wednesday to discuss Washington's policy shift.

A "Wanted" poster of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu was torched by protesters during the
demonstration in the capital [Getty]

ICM lawmaker Ossama al-Shahin told AFP his group has asked the government "to take measures against US interests... and we expect to see concrete measures before Wednesday, not just condemnations".

"It is no longer acceptable to have all our investments, political and financial interests in the United States when there are other countries in the world that have much better (political) positions," he added.

Shia lawmaker Khalil Abdullah said Kuwait, which will serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term from January, should use its upcoming position to rally support against Trump's decision.

His recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital sparked three days of protests in the Palestinian territories, which have so far seen four Palestinians killed. Demonstrations have been held across Asia, Europe and the US as well as across the Arab world.

Kuwait was among several Muslim and Arab countries to have condemned the move. However, Kuwait City has been the only Gulf capital city to witness major protests.

The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamed al-Sabah condemned Trump's decision on Saturday while addressing an emergency meeting of the Arab League Ministerial Council in Cairo. He called on the US to revoke the "regrettable and unhelpful step" and to restore its role as impartial mediator in the region.

Public protests have become few and far between in the Gulf state, due to a continuing crackdown on activism.

On November 27, 68 Kuwaiti activists, including two current MPs, were handed jail sentences ranging from one to five years for storming Kuwait's parliament building during protests in 2011.

In August 2017, celebrated Kuwaiti human rights defender Abdulhakim al-Fadhli was released from prison after spending a year behind bars for peaceful protesting, among other charges. As part of his sentence, al-Fadhli signed a declaration stating that he would not take part in any future protests.