Kuwait residents mask
Mask-clad residents walk in a neighbourhood of Kuwait City on May 12, 2020. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: A Kuwaiti lawyer described an attack on Egyptian workers in her country as “racist”, saying that it was isolated individual acts, denounced by the Kuwaiti people.

Mariam Al Kharafi appeared in a two-minute video clip on Twitter saying she had “a message to our Egyptian brothers and the expatriates inside Kuwait.”

She began by saying that when she saw the “racist videos targeting the Egyptians, she felt that racist and hate speech was directed at me,” adding that “most of the Kuwaiti people did not like these videos, and launched a major attack on these people who appeared and spoke in this way... they do not represent us, they only reflect their upbringing and their morals.”

Mariam added she was still in contact with her Egyptian teachers who taught her when she was in high school, as well as other Egyptians from different sectors. “Until today they ask about me, including judges, consultants, doctors, engineers, and workers.”

She went on to say, “We love you and appreciate you. The Egyptian community forms a large part of Kuwait’s population, so it will certainly come from them some individual behaviors that do not represent them and isolated acts from us Kuwaitis who speak in this racist way and we condemn.”

Her message was concluded by apologising for the attack, saying: “Please do not get upset, and I regret and apologise on their behalf, and the law is taking its course against these people.”

More recently, there have been calls for the expulsion and deportation of Egyptian workers in Kuwait, during which some have used video clips described as “racist”. A Kuwaiti artist has called for throwing Egyptians in Kuwait in the desert, refusing that her country bears the cost of treating those who contracted coronavirus.

A number of Kuwaiti lawmakers have presented a draft law proposing a quota system for employing foreigners as one way to redress the demographic imbalance in the country.

Foreign workers make up 3.3 million of Kuwait’s 4.6 million population.

Under the proposed quota system, the number of Indian workers should not exceed 15 per cent of the overall Kuwaiti population, while those of Egyptian expatriates should stand at a maximum 10 per cent. Indians and Egyptians make up the largest foreign communities in Kuwait. The draft envisages deporting 844,000 Indians and 500,000 Egyptians.

The authors of the draft law said the demographic imbalance in Kuwait has spawned problems in recent years, becoming more conspicuous and serious since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Most illegal workers have been found to be residing in densely populated places lacking in health rules, thereby helping spread COVID-19 in Kuwait.

Noting that the numbers of some foreign communities are nearing those of Kuwaitis, the lawmakers said their draft law sets the maximum limits for each community versus the Kuwaiti population and bans bringing any worker from such communities into Kuwait if their numbers have exceeded their designated quotas.