The BBC reported last week that Kuwait’s information minister, Mohammed Abul-Hassan, resigned last week in order to avoid being fired. It seems the Kuwaiti parliament was very unhappy with Abul-Hassan’s performance in office. Their main complaint? Abul-Hassan hasn’t done enough to censor information and media coming from the West, specifically Western-style concerts.
According to the BBC,
Three fundamentalist Sunni lawmakers were scheduled to question the mr Abul-Hassan in parliament on Monday, over failing to protect “values and morals” by allowing pop music concerts.
They have also accused his ministry of failing to do enough to censor books, magazines, and videos.
This is a good time to re-read Charles Paul Freund’s excellent essay, In Praise of Vulgarity which does an excellent job of connecting how pop culture, even in its most vulgar forms, has played a liberating role in the West and is having the same effect in Muslim-dominated societies as well (which is why its been opposed so vigorously in both cultures).
Minister quits ahead of grilling. The BBC, January 2, 2005.
A few weeks ago, I was driving into work listening to a Public Radio International program about ongoing terrorism in Iraq. The topic that day was the murder of a driver for a Kuwaiti trucking firm. Obviously, the goal of the terrorists was to deny supplies from coming into Iraq by instilling fear in the company and/or it’s drivers.
The guest on PRI that day made what I thought was a rather bizarre slander against the Kuwaiti trucking firms. Asked by the host whether or not this would be an effective tactic, the guest noted that the drivers employed by the Kuwaitis are foreiengers and that the tactic would not work because the Kuwaiti firms could care less about the safety of their foreign workers.
In fact, last week one of the major trucking firms, Kuwait Gulf and Link, announced it would cease all operations in Iraq in an effort to free seven of its drivers held hostage by a group calling itself the Secret Islamic Army. The hostages were all foeigners — three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian.
Frankly, I don’t think the firm should have given in to terrorism on principle, but it’s understandable why they made that decision. I wonder if the PRI guest will go back on network now and apologize. I won’t be holding my breath.
Kuwaiti firm bows to kidnappers’ demands, stops work in Iraq. Agence-France Press, August 27, 2004.
Kuwait’s minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah was quoted by Arabic News.Com in June as saying that he believes the next session of that country’s parliament will approve legislation guaranteeing political rights to women.
In July, Kuwait’s parliamentary elections resulted in a parliament that is likely to be much more supportive of the current government, which has wanted legislation seeking political equality for women for several years now.
In 1999 Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah issued a decree declaring political equality for women, but that decree has been opposed by parliament which has prevented it from entering into Kuwaiti law.
Kuwait’s FM voices support for women issues. ArabicNews.Com, June 16, 2003.
Kuwaiti parliament postpones voting on women’s political rights decree. ArabicNews.Com, November 18, 1999.
On Kuwait’s women’s rights for participating in the elections. ArabicNews.Com, July 8, 2003.
The BBC reports that Muslim extremists in Kuwait are slamming a proposed women’s football tournament being organized by Kuwait University.
Abdullah al-Mutawa, head of Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood, said that the tournament would represent disobedience to God.
Conservative Member of Parliament Walid al-Tabtabai agreed, adding that allowing women to play such sports would “abuse the chastity and dignity of women and imitate western society.” During last summer’s Olympic games in Sydney, Australia, Al-Tabtabai had called for a ban on televised broadcasts of women’s sporting events because they showed women’s bodies in an indecent manner.
One of Kuwait’s leading women’s activists, Rola al-Dashdi, urged the government not to accede to the demands of the Islamists.
Whistle blown on women footballers. Caroline Hawley, The BBC, April 8, 2001.