New Kuwaiti Minister Shuns The Hijab

Nouriya al-Sabeeh became the second female minister in Kuwait history, after Maasuma al-Mubarak’s appointment followed the May 2005 grant of full political rights to women. Today al-Sabeeh became the first to forgo a head cover, causing consternation among the men of Kuwait’s parliament:

Kuwait’s new Education Minister Nouriya Al-Sabeeh took the oath in Parliament yesterday amid protests by some lawmakers that she was not wearing a head cover or hijab.
As Sabeeh began reading the oath, MP Daifallah Buramia, supported by a few others, shouted out that she should not be sworn in unless she complied with Islamic regulations.
“She should not be allowed to take the oath without complying with Sharia regulations,” Buramia shouted as Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi refused to allow him access to the microphone. …
Sabeeh appeared unbothered as she completed taking the oath to applause from some 50 women supporters in the public gallery, most of whom were not wearing the hijab either.
However, most of the Islamist and tribal MPs, who control the 50-seat house, did not join the protest. Nasser Al-Sanae, an Islamist MP, played down the importance of the incident. “This issue is no problem for the government. These are individual opinions. It is her own decision,” he said after the assembly was dissolved.

During and after our liberation of Kuwait, Americans pointed out that Kuwait hardly qualified as a democracy. Its women had no suffrage, and the conservative Islam practiced by the emirate contrasted with our professed intentions of freeing the Kuwaitis, except in the narrow context of freeing them from Saddam Hussein. The Bush (41) administration countered that by claiming engagement would bring the best results of reform.
It took a while, but we have begun to see the fruits of that policy. Kuwait has not only allowed women to vote, but has seen two women take ministerial roles in the government. With Sabeeh’s example, women now have the ability to determine whether to wear the traditional garments of Arabic Islam or to adopt more moderate dress instead. And even though the uncovered head of Sabeeh generated yells in Parliament, it also generated even more calls for individual choice and freedom.
Liberty sometimes needs time to find root in a nation. The Kuwaitis have taken a while to reach this point along their development, but the momentum is on the side of freedom, and in a peaceful transition. It couldn’t have happened under the thumb of Saddam, and it couldn’t have happened without Western engagement and the gentle pressure of three American administrations.

11 thoughts on “New Kuwaiti Minister Shuns The Hijab”

  1. Wow, now this is a woman I can admire and hold high as an example of ‘breaking the glass ceiling’.
    If only American feminists would stop refighting the same retread battles already won decades ago here at home and take their well-tooled women’s rights machine to those who need it most.

  2. Kuwait is one of the more liberal countries in that area of the world. Having spent 3 months there in 2001 (before 9/11,) I can assure you that’s the case. There’s a rather
    Westernized mall downtown. The women and girls I saw there dressed almost in skimpier clothing than girls in American malls do. Yes, some women wore Islamic dress, even including the all-covered-in-black routine, but they were a minority.
    Also, the cable we got on base was provided by the Kuwaitis, which in turn was bought from the Europeans. I’m sure many of you are aware of the differences between European and American TV. Although they did censor the word “God” from movies and TV shows, nothing else was censored.

  3. So when Pelosi comes back from Syria dressed in a $10,000 designer Burkha and a member of Assad’s little harem, it will present an opportunity.
    Can we trade Pelosi and a few sheep over to Kuwait, in exchange for Nouriya Al-Sabeeh?

  4. When I saw this story I was encouraged – America can nudge people towards reforms but the real work is up to people like this woman. It’s absolutely a positive development. Then I saw the photo of Nancy Pelosi wearing a head covering in Damascus (photo on Drudge).
    I-yi-yi-yi. What to say … there are too many appropriate adjectives for her.

  5. C’mon Cannoli, Pelosi should be encouraged – maybe we can get her to wear a bag over her head when she gets back.
    . . . because of religious sensibilities. I don’t like using the Lord’s name in vain, which unfortunately happens whenever I see depictions of her ugly, stupid, traitor face.

  6. Nodonkey, I’ll bet you would look good in a burkha. Must be fun to hurl insults like you do. Takes a real man to do that. Growup.

  7. Picture, Thousand Words, Etc.

    Just click. Related photo here. Update: “Feminist in the US, Subservient in Syria”. Exactly. More: Meanwhile, in stark contrast, “New Kuwaiti Minister Shuns The Hijab”, Ed Morrissey writes….

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