In a recent Kuwaiti TV debate on Islam and secularism, activist Nasser Dashti criticized the Islamic movement, which, he said, "has always wanted to kill the apostates... and to ban nightclubs, parties, and singing, so that people would not get excited," and called to restrict Islam to affairs of the individual. Making a plea for freedom of belief, Dashti drew a comparison to Germany, which, he said, swiftly turned from Nazism into a democratic and secular state that accepts refugees. The Islamic movement, in contrast, "has been unable to come up with a religious enterprise, and has been harping on the same issues" for 13 centuries, said Dashti. The debate aired on Alshahed TV on March 11.
Saeed Tawfiqi: "In Europe, the clergy - the Pope or the priest - would issue indulgences that said: 'You are going to Heaven.'"
Muhammed Al-Mulla: "That is the religious movement."
Saeed Tawfiqi: "This is wrong."
Muhammed Al-Mulla: "That is the work of the political religious movement. We had the same thing."
Saeed Tawfiqi: "If we had religious scholars who tried to hand out tickets to Paradise, I would call it a mistake..."
Nasser Dashti: "They distribute black-eyed virgins.
"Don't they use the (black eyed virgins) as a motivating factor? Someone who goes to blow himself up, to kill, to make accusations of heresy, to commit acts of terror, and to discriminate - doesn't he rely upon religious teachings?
"The Protestants and the Catholics waged a sectarian war for 30 years. 13 centuries have passed since the Battle of the Camel, the battle of Siffin, and the Caliphates, and to this day, people are arguing about this.
"I say today that the religion of Islam must be restricted to affairs of the individual. People are free to embrace whatever religion they want. We must make do with the cultural aspects of religion, such as Friday sermons and the mosques. All these are guaranteed. They exist. It should be a social platform, a means to express views and preach faith, and I don't mean just Islam..."
Saeed Tawfiqi: "You want people to forget everything once they step out of the mosque."
Nasser Dashti: "I'm talking about Islam, Christianity, and the other religions - the Buddhists, the Bohras, the Bahais - and even the non-religious. Everybody has freedom of belief. In this I rely on the constitution.
"To this day, the religious movement believes that it tis the role of the state to get people into Paradise and prevent them from going to Hell. This is not the job of the state."
Saeed Tawfiqi: "Right. I agree with you."
Nasser Dashti: "The Islamic movement in the Arab world, in general, and in Kuwait, in particular, has always wanted to kill the apostates, so that they would not influence people, and to ban nightclubs, parties, and singing, so that people would not get excited. The Christmas tree shocks them to the core. If someone eats in public during Ramadhan, it hurts their feelings.
Saeed Tawfiqi: "But this is not permitted?"
Nasser Dashti: "I'm not talking about what's allowed or not. I'm talking about human rights. What kind of religion, what kind of ideology, is shocked by such things?
"Even the woman... Instead of protecting her, they have a problem with all women. Instead of protecting her, they want to cover her up with the hijab, so that she won't arouse their urges. To every creature who thinks that the woman's body is shameful, I say: Remember where your head emerged from.
"They constantly resort to this naïve example: Hitler, the World War, look what he did in Germany... First of all, Hitler wasn't secular. He was a Catholic, who believed in God. His ideology was based on worldly mechanism and not on secular philosophy. Secondly, even if we accept this for the sake of argument, within 30 years, the German people has managed to replace Nazi racism with Merkel's Germany, which accepts refugees. Today, Germany is a democratic and secular state. Only 30 years! And here, we have an (Islamic) movement that in 13 centuries has been unable to come up with a religious enterprise, and has been harping on the same issues."