Female Kuwaiti Professor Charged With Blasphemy Over TV Interview

Sameera Ehteram
If these innocent statements can get Sheikha al-Jassem in so much trouble, then she definitely has a point about religion being politicized.

Sheikha al-Jassem, a Kuwaiti female academic and human rights activist, has been charged with blasphemy for her comments during a recent television interview.

As seen in the clip above, she didn’t say anything against the religion of Islam or the Muslim Holy book of Quran, instead focusing on the politicizing of religion by governments the world over. Still, her comments were taken to be inflammatory and derogatory.

Legal complaints were filed against her and now her fate rest in the public prosecutor's hand who will decide whether to put Jassem on trial.

When asked whether the religion was being politicized, she replied, “Of course, this is how it has always been and not only in Islam — every religion gets highjacked at some point by the politicians.”

She went on to say that it becomes dangerous because “instead of religion being something between you and your Lord, something that is in your heart, it becomes a tool for oppressing people.”

She continued talking about how the oppression of people is carried out using religion as a tool and to the moderate Kuwait of the '60s and '70s before radicalization took over.

On being questioned about radical Islamists who said that religion was more important than the Kuwaiti constitution, she held that this was a dangerous way of thinking and that politics and religion should be kept apart.

Apparently it was enough to stoke the flames of anger among the Islamist members of Kuwait's parliament who started harassing her and demanding her removal from the position of professor of philosophy at Kuwait University.

"They were terrifying me — everywhere, not just from Kuwait, even from Saudi Arabia," she told the BBC. "They were talking against me, they were saying bad things, they were ridiculing me. But I'm used to it now.”

Jassem faces charges of blasphemy and if convicted, she can be jailed for one year.

Blasphemy charges are often used as a tool to oppress people as well in many Muslim countries around the world like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and the UAE.

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