Yemen and Kuwait Endorse Reform at U.N.
At the U.N. General Assembly on September 26 Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, President of the Republic of Yemen, and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah, provided similar messages in their speeches. Both addressed a recent provocative anti-Islamic film, criticizing those who defend insults to Islam “under the justification of the freedom of expression.” Al-Hadi called for “limits for the freedom of expression,” especially ones that insult “the beliefs of nations [or] defames their figures,” while al-Sabah called for “a universal commitment to respect all religions.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, of which both nations are members, intends to call on the U.N. to internationally criminalize such acts under proposed blasphemy laws.
Both leaders noted the 50 year anniversary of their respective countries’ movements towards government reform; movements based on “aspirations for change…freedom…[and] equality” in Kuwait, and which guarantee the practice of “effective and official” democracy and “basic freedoms” in Yemen. Al-Hadi condemned autocratic rule and monopoly of power, stating that people should be able to “choose their rulers freely.” Both leaders called on the international community to provide financial support to Yemen as they believe it will foster democracy, human rights, and social justice. Al-Hadi finished by endorsing the Palestinian application to become a full member state in the U.N., and both criticized Israeli actions against Palestinians, while calling on the U.N. to develop a peaceful solution to end the crisis in Syria.
Both al-Hadi and al-Sabah expressed continued commitment to the Gulf Cooperation Council initiatives. The initiatives have been called into question with the sentencing of female pro-democracy activist Zainab al-Khawaja in Bahrain, which occurred on the same day as the speeches. Al-Khawaja was sentenced to two months in prison for allegedly “destroying government property” and “ripping up a picture of the king.” Kuwait has also been criticized for its Constitutional Court’s recent ruling on electoral boundaries.