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“No dress code, no Islamic law and no nonsense”

Women in Kuwait’s extremely limited democracy have finally been enfranchised, subject to a requirement for “any female politician or voter to abide by Islamic law”; a concession which was, according to the Times, inserted by “fundamentalist lawmakers” who had, hitherto, successfully blocked reform. Nobody seems to know precisely what this condition means: which I suppose is its point.

“I am overexcited. I can’t believe this,” said activist Rola Dashti, who said she would run in the next parliamentary election, in 2007. “I’m starting my campaign as of today.” Ms Dashti said she was not concerned by the vague reference to Islamic law, saying it probably just meant separate polling stations and not an Islamic dress code. “They can’t impose veils on voters,” she said.

Massouma al-Mubarak, a political analyst and professor at Kuwait University, said the parliament approval was long overdue. “This is the right thing to do,” she said. “It is no favour from anyone.” She said that any conditions put on the bill would be a violation of the constitution. “When you put conditions only for women, this is extraconstitutional.” The constitution puts no conditions on anyone, she said. “No dress code, no Islamic law and no nonsense.”

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