Thursday, November 01, 2007

Stateless Kuwaitis: "Bidun"

Many moons ago I considered going to work in Kuwait. According to Refugees International, some while ago the Islamic emirate rather arbitrarily classified a portion of its inhabitants, mainly the nomadic sorts, as bidun, stateless. They were given passports, different in color from those of "real" Kuwaitis', but thrown out of government jobs, not allowed to register their births, etc. In short, they became second-class citizens despite being brother Muslims, having been born in the country, having lineage their going back probably hundreds of years.

It's said that Kuwait is a progressive, a liberal, Muslim nation, but stories from some bidun might persuade you to believe otherwise. And then there's that whole deal about not being let in (or, depending on how useful you are to the country, how laboriously) if your passport carries proof of a visit to Israel. Does Kuwait also require foreign workers prove their religious affiliation (as Saudi Arabia does), ban pork products, ban non-Islamic religious texts, disallow foreigners' purchasing land or building of religious facilities?

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