KUWAIT CITY – A member of Kuwait's parliament says he is facing charges of insulting the nation after saying he supports legalizing the sale of alcohol in the predominantly Muslim country.
Nabil al-Fadhl told The Associated Press late Sunday that controversy was sparked after he first proposed repealing a law that bans dancing at public music concerts and festivals. Kuwaiti law bans people from dancing at concerts, though they are allowed to clap their hands and sway.
After his proposal, al-Fadhl said he was asked in parliament by an Islamist lawmaker if that means he would also support legalizing the sale of alcohol during concerts.
"Why not? Historically, many people in Kuwait drank alcohol on many occasions," he said he replied to the query.
The Kuwait Times later reported that several lawmakers swiftly condemned al-Fadhl "for saying that liquor was part of Kuwait's history and ancestors were tolerant toward allowing its consumption in the past."
Kuwait's first parliament banned the sale of alcohol in 1964. It is a sin in Islam to consume alcohol, though it is sold legally with some restrictions in the Gulf countries of United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
One lawmaker, Saud al-Huraiji, was quoted in the Kuwait Times as saying that al-Fadhl had "clearly undermined the image of Kuwaitis and the country's history." Lawmaker Humoud al-Hamdan said "the ancestors of Kuwaitis were well known for their fight against moral corruption, including the use of liquor."
Al-Fadhl said an Islamist lawyer filed charges against him for his remarks, accusing him of insulting the honor of Kuwaiti society.
Fadhl said he was only mentioning "facts about alcohol in Kuwait's history." On the black market, he said, people can buy a bottle of whiskey for 120 dinars ($408).
"It's available in ample amounts, but only affordable to the rich," he told the AP. "A good start would be to allow people to bring in their own alcohol from abroad instead of confiscating it."
Al-Fadhl, who is an independent lawmaker, said that despite his personal views, he is not planning to propose a bill to legalize the sale of alcohol.