Kuwait plans to pass laws this year to censor the use of social networking sites such as Twitter, the information minister has said, in the wake of cases of alleged blasphemy and sectarianism that have prompted protests.
Kuwaiti lawmakers have already voted in favour of a legal amendment earlier this month which could make insulting religious characters punishable by death.
Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said:
The government is now in the process of establishing laws that will allow government entities to regulate the use of the different new media outlets such as Twitter in order to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society.
Sheikh Mohammad said laws regulating social media needed to be passed as soon as possible: I have been asking the parliamentarians to give this priority, adding that he hoped the measures would be implemented this year.
A Kuwaiti man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after he was convicted of supposedly endangering state security by insulting the religious character Mohammad and the Sunni Muslim rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on social media.
Shi'ite Muslim Hamad al-Naqi pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last month. The written verdict found Naqi guilty of all charges, a court secretary told Reuters.
The sentence was the maximum that Naqi could have received, his lawyer Khaled al-Shatti said. But an appeal could be possible.
The judge found him guilty of supposedly insulting Mohammed, his wife and companions, mocking Islam, provoking sectarian tensions, insulting the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and using his mobile phone to spread the comments.
The civil plaintiff arguing the case against Naqi, had called for Naqi to be executed reflecting the bloodlust of politicians and religious extremists. This verdict is a deterrent to those who insult the Prophet Mohammad, his companions and
the mothers of the believers, civil plaintiff Dowaem al-Mowazry said in a text message. He had argued in court that Naqi must be made an example of.
Kuwait's Ameer, Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah, has refused to sign a bill passed by parliament stipulating the death penalty for major religious offences.
The government has sent the bill back to parliament indicating that it had been rejected by the Ameer.
The Ameer has the power to refuse bills passed by the elected parliament, but the assembly can override the rejection by passing the bill again with a two-thirds majority of the house membership of 49 MPs and 16 cabinet ministers.
The bill, passed by parliament last month, stipulates that Muslims who curse the Koran, or the religious characters, God, Mohammed, prophets or Mohammed's wives.
The bill introduced two new laws specifically to introduce extreme penalties for such offences. Non-Muslims who commit the same offence face extreme jail terms of not less than 10 years, according to the bill.
A prominent female academic and human rights activist in Kuwait has been charged with blasphemy. Sheikha al-Jassem was summoned to the public prosecutor's office after legal complaints were filed against her over a recent interview she gave on
She asserted that the constitution of Kuwait should be above the Quran and Islamic law in governing the country. The interview was broadcast on Kuwaiti Al-Shahed TV on 8 March. Its theme was the rise of Islamic extremism.
During the interview, Jassem was asked about radical Islamists who said that religion was more important than the Kuwaiti constitution. She responded by saying that this was dangerous and that, in her opinion, politics and religion should be kept
apart. Jassem made reference to the violence across the Middle East and divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims. She said that if you just went back to holy books and relied on them, society could not move forward.
Her remarks provoked a storm of attacks against her, spearheaded by Islamist members of Kuwait's parliament.
The public prosecutor still has the discretion to decide whether or not Ms Jassem will be put on trial.