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Wednesday, February 2, 2011     GET REAL

Kuwait limits parliament's Islamist agenda, forbids beards in military

ABU DHABI — Kuwait, fearing the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, has rejected legislation that would enable soldiers and police to grow beards.


The Kuwaiti government was said to have rejected a bill drafted in parliament for members of the military and security forces to grow beards, a trademark of Islamic fundamentalists.

Parliament passed the legislation in December on the strength of its Islamic bloc.

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"This would harm discipline throughout the security forces," a government source said.

On Feb. 1, Kuwait's A-Siyassa daily quoted government sources as saying that the legislation would endanger discipline and sow unrest in the military, Middle East Newsline reported. The newspaper also cited concerns that the law would be difficult to implement.

Under the bill, members of the military, National Guard and police could grow beards. The legislation was supported by 30 of the 50 members of parliament, most of them members of the Islamic bloc.

Kuwait has sought to expand the military and National Guard amid conventional and counter-insurgency threats. Parliament has approved a government drive to increase salaries and benefits in an effort to expand recruitment among natives of the sheikdom.

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