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Controversy over figurines in Kuwait threatens to escalate

Dispute heats up as religious figures say they may be used for idol worship

Gulf News

Manama: An online dispute over the merit of selling figurines in Kuwait threatens to worsen after a lawmaker has taken the issue to the country’s powerful parliament.

A video posted on social media sites and claiming that a shop in Kuwait was selling statues sparked shocked reactions from religious figures and conservatives and calls to shut down the business.

The shop specialises in creating lifelike replicas of people using 3D scanning booths and printers, but the conservatives said that the miniatures and statues would be worshipped as idols within years.

“What this shop is doing is an abomination and it must be closed immediately as it is more dangerous to society than liquor stores, because it revives the issue of idols. Some people may make idols for their children,” Othman Al Khamees, a religious personality, said.

Abdul Rahman Al Nassar posted on the hashtag launched to pressure the government into shutting down the shop said that the real threat would materialise within years.

“The grave concern is that the statues would be idolised later. Maybe not today, but later for sure. Today, they are just figurines, but within years they will hold a new significance and will be turned into idols that will be worshipped. We hope everyone will stand against the shop and the statues,” he said.

Lawmaker Mohammad Hayef Al Mutairi said the idea of selling statues in Kuwait should not be allowed.

“We must not go soft on such issues because they are at the very core of our religious values. There must be no statues,” he said.

However, other Kuwaitis expressed shock at the calls against the “negative” reaction by those who called for action against the shop.

“A shop here in Kuwait is selling figurines for people and their families. Religious figures step in and say that the figurines will lead to idolatry and that people will worship them. We have gone way beyond all stages of ignorance and we have reached a phase that I cannot identify,” Lulwa Al Husainan posted.

Hamad Al Sinan, a Kuwaiti religious figure, said that when the early Muslims entered Egypt, they took no action against the Sphinx.

“None of the prominent Muslim leaders or imams called for its removal or the removal of statues in Afghanistan, for example,” he said.

“There is no logic in issuing calls to ban figurines or replicas. Let us rise above such illogical, irrational thoughts.”

One user posted a picture of a statue of Ronald McDonald, the clown character used as the primary mascot of the McDonald’s fast-food chain, saying that it had existed for years and no religious voice has said anything about it.

Another blogger posted pictures of statues used in museums, saying that everybody seemed to accept them and that they did not cause uproar in the country.

On Tuesday, MP Ahmad Al Fadl said that he had formed a team of more than 12 lawmakers to coordinate action on issues related to personal liberties.

“The team is now arranging for meetings with the interior and information ministers as well as senior government personalities,” he said in a statement.

“We are concerned that some ‘Fatwa people’ want to suppress freedom in Kuwait, especially regarding books and figurines. What has been happening lately is an assault on freedoms, but the rule of law should be maintained. We do not act laws based on fatwas. We cannot allow the ban of books that are sold freely in other Gulf countries.”

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