Within a week in October, Kuwaiti women won two small victories that were baby steps for womankind, but a nightmare come true for Muslim fundamentalists, who for decades blocked political rights for women.
First, Kuwait’s constitutional court ruled married women could obtain passports and travel without their husbands’ permission. The court said the previous requirement was in violation of guarantees of freedom and gender equality in the constitution.
The second victory came when the constitutional court dismissed a case raised by an Islamist voter who claimed that two of four women elected to parliament in May — Rola Dashti and Aseel al-Awadhi — cannot be members of the legislature because they don’t wear headscarves.
The other two female parliamentarians wear headscarves.
Headscarves have nothing to do with being a competent parliamentarian but everything to do with Muslim fundamentalist fear of women’s rights.
For years, those fundamentalists stood in the way of women’s political rights, making sure Kuwait’s parliament remained a boy’s only club.
Islamists forget they don’t hold the copyright to Islam or its interpretations and they forgot that for many of us Muslims, the essence of Islam is equality and justice, not a hatred of women or laws to curtail their rights.
All four women parliamentarians in Kuwait are Muslim. Two wear headscarves. Two don’t. That is the way it should be — an exercise of free will based on individual conscience and not the misogyny of fundamentalists.