In February, the State of Kuwait gave official recognition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, making this the first time in 40 years that Kuwait has given recognition to a religious organization.
On behalf of the First Presidency, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Mary, met government leaders and members in Kuwait City on Monday, June 10, to express gratitude for this landmark event and love for the nearly 300 members who live and work in Kuwait, Newsroom reported.
At a devotional for members in Kuwait on Sunday, June 9, Elder Cook addressed the significant benefits — like the ability to open a bank account as a religious entity, to rent or own property and to seek visas for humanitarian volunteers — that come with the Church being recognized by a government.
“It may seem simple in some ways [but] this is no small thing,” said Elder Cook. “There’s a huge difference when you are received well and when you’re not received well. It’s important to be able to have the attributes of an entity that is recognized by the laws of government where we worship and where we live.”
In their June 10 meeting, Elder Cook thanked Fareed Asad Emadi, secretary general of the Supreme Commission for the Promotion of Moderation in the Ministry of Awqaf, for his “key role in granting recognition to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“We appreciate the friendship, and we want to respond. We are going to be very good citizens, good neighbors, good friends, he said, adding "We feel comfortable being with people of different faiths but who have accountability to God.”
Emadi said the Ministry of Aqwaf gave the Church recognition because of the desire to live in peace — a desire that comes from the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
“Our religion taught us how to deal with others and how to respect others,” Emadi said.
Elder and Sister Cook also met with a senior member of the Kuwaiti royal family, Her Excellency Sheikha Intisar Salem al-Ali al-Sabah. Their stop in Kuwait followed stops in both Greece and Israel, where Elder Cook discussed the importance of interfaith community dialogues.
In 2011, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles dedicated Kuwait for the blessings of the gospel of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. The Middle East Africa North Area includes Kuwait and 19 other countries, from Morocco on the west to Afghanistan on the east.
The formal recognition of the Church strictly prohibits the proselytizing to and baptism of Muslims in Kuwait.