Kuwait's emir warns against sectarian abuse on social media

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

DUBAI (Reuters) - Kuwait’s ruler warned on Monday against the abuse of social media to stoke sectarian tensions in the small Gulf Arab country, which has a mixed Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim population.

“What we are living through and seeing is the misuse of social media tools ... to spread enmity and hatred,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said in a message published by state news agency KUNA to mark the last 10 days of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

A suicide bombing by Sunni extremist group Islamic State at a Shi’ite mosque last June killed 27 worshippers and jolted the usually quiet kingdom, caught between the sectarian-tinged rivalry of its massive neighbors Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“My brothers and my children, we remember with grief the terrorist bombing at the Imam al-Sadiq mosque ... the goal of its planning and execution in their satanic way was to ignite strife, division and prejudice among members of Kuwaiti society,” the emir added, in rare remarks on sectarianism.

Historically, relations between Kuwait’s Sunnis, who make up between 70 and 85 percent of the country’s 1.4 million citizens, and its minority Shi’ite community have been mostly amicable.

Shi’ites hold important positions in business, government and parliament.

Reporting by Noah Browning; editing by Andrew Roche