Years ago, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the Netherlands very proudly showed me one of the changes he had made during his term: the application form for a visa for the small Gulf state no longer asked to state your religion.
I hardly realised then how extra-ordinary his move was, as I was so used
to our European passports not disclosing a person’s believes, as a
result of the separation between state and religion.
Since then, I have filled in many application forms for visa in the
Middle East that did ask for that information. And when I went to live
in the Kurdistan Region, it also was a question I got asked by officials
filling in my registration papers that led to my residency permit.
In a predominantly Muslim country it’s not an option to say you do not
have a religion. If you are not Muslim, then you must by Christian, is
the automatic assumption for a Westerner.
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