Underlying Reasons for Kuwaiti Ambivalence
Kuwait's delicate balancing act with regard to Islamic fundamentalism reflects a society that remains traditionally Muslim in many ways. True, there are no mutawwa (religious police) as in Saudi Arabia, nor do the five daily prayer times make much of an observable dent in public activities. Yet, the Kuwaiti public as a whole supports Islamic traditions, and alcohol, gambling, mixed dancing, and other such Western amusements are difficult for Kuwaitis to find. And since nearly all Kuwaiti citizens are Muslim, Islam provides a unifying identity that promotes national cohesion. Accordingly, any action by the government against Islamists, however legitimate, becomes a sensitive issue.