I saw another American steal some expensive items in Kuwait. He was dragged away by the hisbah and some Kuwaiti national guard.

I can understand some Arabic from being in Iraq and I'm pretty sure I heard someone say he was going to lose a hand for stealing. Does it matter if you are American in Kuwait when it comes to Sharia punishment?

  • Once returned from a holiday in Egypt to the UK, and on the airport an elderly woman got caught stealing. Don't know what happened, but why on earth would you go shoplifting in a muslim country. Or in any foreign country for that matter.
    – gnasher729
    Jul 17, 2016 at 14:19
  • @gnasher729 Why do people go shoplifting in their own countries?
    – JAB
    Jun 21, 2018 at 0:42

2 Answers 2


In Kuwait, Shari`a law only applies to family law for Muslim residents. However, if there were a hand-chopping penalty for theft, it would derive from Shari`ah. Article 31 of the constitution says "No person shall be subjected to torture or to ignominious treatment", which at least suggests that hand-chopping is not allowed. This also suggests that corporal punishment is not allowed outside the home, and this suggests that "Article 219 of the criminal states the punishment as being up to 2 years of jail time or/and a fee of up to 2000 Rupees". Even resident Muslims would not be subject to legal hand-chopping. In Kuwait.


In general, there are situations where your nationality actually affects whether something is a crime or not or how severe. For example, treason (usually only citizens can commit treason, foreigners can't), illegally entering a country (usually only foreigners can, not citizens). In Germany, insulting a foreign head of state is illegal - but only for Germans.

And there will be other cases, where the laws of a country are so strict that lawfully convicting a foreigner might lead to trouble with the other country, and avoiding that trouble might be more important than upholding the law and getting a conviction, so a foreigner might be removed from the country instead of being thrown into jail for example.

  • Erh, what? gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_stgb/englisch_stgb.html#p1035: doesn't mention citizenship.
    – user6726
    Jul 17, 2016 at 14:22
  • @user6726 the definition of treason also does not mention citizenship; only a few lesser crimes do.
    – phoog
    Jun 20, 2018 at 14:47
  • @phoog: The United States Code (at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 ): defines treason as "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States." Presumably this means citizens, but could conceivably include others e.g. non-citizens serving voluntarily in a military role.
    – sharur
    Jun 21, 2018 at 20:25
  • @sharur the phrase you highlight notably includes non-citizen US nationals, who are defined at 8 USC 1101(a)(22) as those who "though not [citizens] of the United States, owe[] permanent allegiance to the United States." But my comment was relative to the German law linked in user6726's comment. (Also the entire US military is voluntary and has been for decades.)
    – phoog
    Jun 21, 2018 at 20:35

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