How Native Christians live in the Muslim Dominant Gulf Countries?

Kuwait or call Dawlat al-Kuwait is a country located in the direction of Western Asia which is situated on the northern border of Eastern Arabia. Kuwait shares its borders with Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Kuwait is basically an oil-rich country. Kuwait holds a population of about 4.2 million people in which 2.9 million are expatriates whereas 1.3 million are Kuwaitis. Most the Kuwait's citizens are Muslims and Islam is the official religion of Kuwait but minorities also exist in Kuwait following different religions. In Kuwait, the Christian community is counted the main figure in minorities. The main Christian communion in Kuwait is Roman Catholic and the biggest church for Christian in Kuwait is also following Roman Catholic.[irp]

Pastor Amanuel Benjamin Ghareeb is the first Kuwait Christian citizen who was appointed and became a pastor in the year of 1999. Besides Bahrain, Kuwait is the only country who is included in the Gulf Cooperation Council with native Christian population holding citizenship. Statistics of Christian population shows that there are around 260 citizens whereas, in Bahrain, they are almost up to 1,000.   Pastor Amanuel Benjamin Ghareeb who is now 66 years old, gave an interview in which he said that mostly the background of Christian families in Kuwait and Bahrain is from the southeastern side of Turkey while some belong from Iraq or Palestine. The proportion of Christians decreased after changes were made in the law of Kuwait’s citizenship which was formulated in 1982.

Citizenship law of Kuwait stated exclusion of Christians from naturalization. According to the estimation, there are nearly twelve families who are Christian in Kuwaiti. Christian born Kuwaitis get equal rights and privileges as Muslims get in Kuwait.  Although it is still difficult to talk about the Christian representation socially and politically in the Gulf States, there is no Christian ever elected in the National Assembly of Kuwait.  On the 8th of January 1999, appointing of Amanuel Benjamin Ghareeb as a first priest and pastor was considered as a great landmark event for all the Christian communities in the Gulf States.

Christians feel satisfaction in proudly calling themselves Kuwaitis and to be included among those who stayed in Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation in the year of 1990. The Constitution of Kuwait clearly described that every Kuwaiti Christian holds freedom for nomination and full right for participating in local elections. If the population generally accepts and elects anyone from the Christian community, then it would be a great step. Ghareeb added that they won’t like to get any representation which is forcible.[irp]

Relationship of Muslims and Christians experienced a few years back during the time when there were attacks by extremists which resulted in targeting Christians on the east side. This situation caused some disturbance and concerns for Kuwaiti Christians but they are thankful to the wise leadership who shielded them and understood the ongoing situation internally in Kuwait. The Ministry of interior provided more protection to churches during their religious Festivals.  In a nutshell, Kuwaiti Christians have full freedom in Kuwait to enjoy every political, social and civil right.

Source: Al Arabiya