Manama: Kuwait is home to 150 Kuwaiti Christians, down from 200 in 2007, the head of a church has said.

“The number of Kuwaiti Christians is now 150,” Emmanuel Benjamin Gharib, a Kuwaiti national and the first Gulf Arab to become head of a Protestant church, said.

“Most of them are of Turkish, Iraqi and Palestinian origin,” he told local Arabic daily Al Rai. Tolerance and mutual acceptance between Muslims and Christians in Kuwait is “very high”, he said.

“We do not have problems, and the constitution stresses freedom of religion. Christians have not been made second class citizens and their rights are guaranteed by the constitution,” he said.

Churches in Kuwait are open to the external world and Christian figures from various denominations regularly visit the country and have contacts with the communities, said the 62 year-old Kuwait-born leader.

Thousands of foreigners who migrate to Kuwait for work are Christians.

According to Al Rai, around 20,000 Christians attend services weekly in the country’s eight churches.

The Kuwaiti constitution stipulates that the State protect the freedom to practice religion in accordance with established customs, “provided that it does not conflict with public policy or morals.”

A Kuwaiti lawmaker earlier this month waded into controversy after he said that he opposed the construction of new non-Muslim places of worship, saying they were not needed.