Kuwaiti Parliament Comes to Blows in Debate Over Gitmo Detainees

Rising tensions between Shiite and Sunni lawmakers erupted today

This article is from the archive of our partner .

It turns out heated debates over the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba don't just happen in the U.S. On Friday, a Kuwaiti parliamentary session devolved into a brawl when the Shiite lawmaker Hussein al-Qallaf described Kuwaitis detained at Guantamo as "terrorists" and "al-Qaeda" militants. The comment enraged four Sunni Islamist lawmakers, who demanded that al-Qallaf's microphone be turned off and eventually surrounded the politician, sparking a fistfight, according to Gulf News. Al-Qallaf was "floored" by one of the Sunni lawmakers "for making threats with a stick" and other politicians--some of whom rushed to defend al-Qallaf--were injured. Parliament Speaker Jassim al-Kharafi apologized for the "unprecedented" incident and suspended the legislative body for the rest of the month. A portion of the fight was captured on film, and MSNBC has assembled photos from the scuffle.

Several news outlets are stepping in with some context. Reuters explains that the fight split along sectarian lines in a "parliament that has seen some tensions emerge between Sunni and Shiite lawmakers after Kuwait sent naval forces to Bahrain following Shiite-led protests in the Gulf Arab neighbour." Kuwait is about 70 percent Sunni and 30 percent Shiite, according to the State Department.

According to AFP, a delegation of U.S. lawyers who are defending the two Kuwaiti inmates at Guantanamo under discussion were attending the session. The BBC adds that U.S. embassy cables released by WikiLeaks last year suggested that Kuwait's interior minister didn't want the detainees to return to the country. But Kuwait's foreign minister, in turn, said the country would never "forget about its sons" who were "detained in Guantanamo without trial."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.