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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Veil protest dogs Kuwait minister
Nouria al-Sbeih
Nouria al-Sbeih is Kuwait's second female parliamentarian
Kuwait's new education minister was greeted by protests as she took the oath of office, after she refused to wear a headscarf in parliament.

A number of MPs shouted and jeered as Nouria al-Sbeih, Kuwait's second female cabinet member, completed her oath.

Reforms in May 2005 gave women the right to vote and run for office, but the law requires them to abide by unspecified Islamic rules.

Many Kuwaiti women wear the veil, but Islamic dress is not mandatory.

'Laws broken'

Islamist lawmaker Deiffallah Bou Ramia stood and shouted during the ceremony until he was forced to sit down by Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi, who also refused to give others the floor.

"It was a law that parliament passed. How could you allow it to be broken?" Mr Bou Ramia said.

Many female supporters in the gallery applauded Ms Sbeih as she finished the oath.

Ms Sbeih joins Kuwait's first female member of cabinet, Health Minister Massouma al-Mubarak, who took office a month after women won the right to participate in politics.

There were no protests over Ms Mubarak's dress when she joined parliament in 2005, as she wears a veil in public.

The oil-rich nation's new 16-member cabinet was formed in March.

The previous government resigned after eight months in power as claims of incompetence and mismanagement dogged the previous health minister, Sheikh Ahmad Abdullah Al-Sabah, a member of the royal family.


SEE ALSO
Government of Kuwait steps down
04 Mar 07 |  Middle East
Kuwait's woman minister sworn-in
20 Jun 05 |  Middle East
Country profile: Kuwait
24 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Kuwait
05 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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