- Kuwait Times Extra
I am one of those who are really concerned about human rights and freedom of expression not only in Kuwait but across the Arab world as a whole. The problem, as I see, lies in the fact that the concepts of human right and freedom of expression are being perceived as a threat to the rulers but this is not just an exaggeration.
It is a misperception and a misinterpretation about how someone can exercise his civil rights in a developed society. The freedom of expression is something that has to be implemented by the National Assembly and backed by a free press, without any fear that someone could be sent to jail not for doing something but merely for saying something or having an opinion, thus turning people into political prisoners.
That someone could be sent to jail for a year or killed or hanged because his ideas may be perceived as too revolutionary is a terribly wrong thing to happen, but it did happen to many politicians in the Arab world throughout histor y. Although, in many cases, such allegations in the case of deaths of some key leaders were never proven, and in some cases never denied, the possibility that something like this could happen in a civil conflict or chaos is not entirely ruled out. Both former MPs, Abdulla Al-Nebari and Hamad Al-Jowan, were injured during attempts to assassinate them. I not only apprehend but never want to see such a thing happening again. Luckily, both are among us today.
This is not something that I am just making up; these are stark facts. I do not wish anything like this to ever happen again to either one of them, regardless of the fact whether I agree with them or not in issuing provocative calls. People in the Gulf region were born under a welfare system that took care of them in every aspect of life, and they used to live and die in that system only. Kuwait was no exception. In the 60s, it may have made sense and been deemed suitable, but we no longer live in the same world. Things have changed and people have to change with the times. The state-will-take-allcare policy has to change to keep pace with the international requirements of human development and the needs of today. But what is it that is needed today and which we have failed to provide? S ocial justice is the key here.
There has been an increase in corruption while our people lack in good education. People have so much of spare time in a conservative society that is ruled by religious men who neither practice any tolerance nor accept the ideas of freedom of expression or any break with conventions.
All this makes our youth angry who then call for radical change, and there are always certain politicians who find this an atmosphere per fect to gain some more popularity. People with a different agenda then chose to join demonstrations, protests and star t calling for change. They may not understand the consequences of such calls but still become a part of it. It is the same thing that is slated to happen in Kuwait in the shape of November 4 demonstrations. Some social websites say that many of those who are due to take part in this march are not aware what they are getting involved into or the objectives of such marches. It may not seem sensible or acceptable but it is happening. So those who talk or rely on pubic awareness and the role of youth must be cautioned against being carried away.
Freedom, I think, needs to be secured, protected and observed not necessarily by the police and the authorities but by everyone in the larger society. On top of it all, we need responsible media figures to call for peace, sense and reforms in our society besides fighting against corruption and improving our education sector.
By Muna Al-Fuzai
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