Close on the heels of the US travel ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries, a move from the new Trump administration that attracted wide-scale criticism, it has been reported that Gulf emirate Kuwait has put in place a similar 'Muslim ban'.
Middle East news portals have reported that the Kuwait government has slapped a total visa and travel ban on citizens from five Muslim majority countries which are considered to be 'unstable'.
Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans are barred from applying for a Kuwaiti visa under the new rules adopted by the oil rich emirate that has close ties with the US. The people from these countries will not be able to travel to the emirate for business or personal matters Albawaba reported.
Kuwaiti officials said "instability" in these five countries is the reason for the blanket visa ban, the portal reported. The tiny emirate that shares borders with Iraq has largely remained peaceful though the government sees the threat perception high considering the influence of Isis and Al-Qaeda in the region. The country has also been apprehensive about the infiltration of Taleban militants from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Lying perniciously close to one of the most dangerous terror hotbeds in the world, Kuwait has been trying to insulate itself from the spread of terrorism. It has arrested dozens of suspected militants and terror sympathisers in a series of crackdowns in the recent past. Kuwait also implemented a landmark DNA mapping for its the four million people living in the country.
However, Pakistan's ambassador to Kuwait denied the emirate slapped a visa ban on Pakistanis. According to Ghulam Dastagir, the new curbs are merely social media rumours, Pakistan's Geo TV said. There is no official communication from Kuwait about the visa ban. The local officials cited by regional media outlets said the visa ban will be reviewed when the situation in these countries improves.
Meanwhile, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates said the travel ban imposed by the Trump administration is not anti-Muslim. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan said Trump made a 'sovereing decision' and it is wrong to say it is directed against any particular religion.