03 July 2015, News Wires – A suicide attack on a mosque in Kuwait brought together the oil rich Persian Gulf state’s rival Sunni and Shia Muslim sects in a rare show of unity.
The attack, claimed by Islamic State (IS) and carried out by a Saudi national on 26 June, targeted a Shia mosque, leaving at least 27 dead and more than 200 injured.
The ruling Sunni Al-Sabah family led the way in making it clear that national unity far outweighed religious differences.
The victims of the attack were declared martyrs of the nation. The country’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, was among the first to visit the bombed mosque, while tens of thousands of Kuwaitis took to social media to express national unity and adherents of both sects joined together in communal prayers to reject sectarianism.
Shias make up about 30% to 40% of Kuwait’s population, have lived in harmony with their Sunni compatriots and occupied key posts in the oil sector.
Kuwait is one of the world’s richest countries due to a relatively small indigenous population and the ability to produce 2.8 million barrels per day of oil.
Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah pledged “to cut off hands that attempt to tamper with security of the nation”, adding that Kuwait will always remain “an oasis of security and safety”.
Despite its tragic outcome, the collective outrage at the tragedy is a blunt message to extremists that their attempts to stir up religious hatred in the country may have backfired.
The atrocities are clearly aimed at ripping the fabric of society by creating chaos that will ultimately play into their hands.
Entrenched inter-sect rivalry in neighbouring Iraq has helped IS dominate large parts of the country, exploiting the grievances of a Sunni minority feeling marginalised by the majority Shias since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The unity displayed in Kuwait following the mosque tragedy will help to further deter such attacks and make the country safer.