Shia Islam in Kuwait
Shia Islam in Kuwait constitutes 30%-40% of Kuwait's citizen population. Kuwait's Shia citizens are mostly Ajam, who emigrated to Kuwait from Iran before the 1920s. There are minorities of Kuwaiti Shias from southern Iraq, Al-Hasa and Bahrain. The majority of the Shia are Twelvers.
In the 1990's, 40% of Kuwaitis were Shias. In 2001, Shia Kuwaitis were 36.5% of Kuwait's citizen population because there were 300,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 820,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total. In 2002, the US Department of State reported that Shia Kuwaitis formed 30%-40% of Kuwait's citizen population, noting there were 525,000 Sunni citizens and 855,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total (61% Sunnis, 39% Shias). In 2004, there were 300,000-350,000 Shia Kuwaiti citizens and 913,000 Kuwaiti citizens in total. The Strategic Studies Institute reported that 40% of Kuwaiti citizens were Shias in 2008.
Shia Kuwaitis formed more than one-third of the December 2012 nationally elected National Assembly and hold many senior positions in the government. Shia of Persian origin are most closely aligned with the government and form a key part of the government bloc.
Contrary to the expectations of the Iraqi government, Shia Kuwaitis founded the local armed resistance movement during the occupation of Kuwait in the Gulf War. Most Kuwaitis arrested, tortured and executed during the occupation were Shias. The Kuwaiti resistance's casualty rate far exceeded that of the coalition military forces and Western hostages. The resistance predominantly consisted of ordinary citizens who lacked any form of training and supervision.
Shia citizens as a group are well integrated into the Kuwaiti state. Kuwaiti government policy, on paper and in practice, does not discriminate citizens on a sectarian basis. This leaves the Shia relatively well-treated with no scale sectarian campaign on the part of the government. Kuwaiti Shia citizens are considered the most integrated Shia group in the Gulf region due to the absence of sectarianism in Kuwaiti society.
The Shia Kuwaiti community has produced a number of well-known individuals, notable in many fields, especially business and commerce, thus contributing significantly to the general economic development of the country. Kuwait's first female minister Massouma al-Mubarak is a Shia. One of the first women elected in the parliament, Rola Dashti, is a Kuwaiti Shia of Iranian origin.
Shia Kuwaitis are notable for many monuments in Kuwait, such as the Marafi Hussainia in Kuwait City, which was built as a worship place for Shia Muslims. The building was founded by descendants of an Iranian merchant known as Marafi Behbahani; he was one of the first Iranian immigrants to settle in Kuwait, in the 18th century.
- "The New Middle East, Turkey, and the Search for Regional Stability". Strategic Studies Institute. April 2008. p. 93. "Shiites comprise 60 percent of the population in Bahrain, 40 percent in Kuwait, 14 percent in Saudi Arabia, and 35 percent in Lebanon."
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- "Ethnic Conflict and International Politics in the Middle East". Leonard Binder. 1999. p. 164. "Unlike the Shi'a of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, the Kuwaiti Shi'a mostly are of Persian descent."
- "Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society". Werner Ende, Udo Steinbach. 2002. p. 533. "In contrast, more than one-third of Kuwaiti citizens are Shi'ites and are almost exclusively 'Ajam."
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- "Two ethnicities, three generations: Phonological variation and change in Kuwait". Newcastle University. 2010. p. 11-12.
- "Saudi Release of 4 Kuwaiti Convicts Highlights Changing Gulf Alliances : Diplomacy: The Shiites were jailed for a bombing in Mecca. Sixteen other defendants were beheaded in 1989.". Los Angeles Times. "Although 40% of the Kuwaiti population is Shiite, only three members of the last Parliament and one member of the Cabinet, the minister of transport, belonged to that branch of Islam."
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- "Interview with Dr. Rola Dashti, Member of the Kuwaiti Parliament". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 9 March 2010.