Wake up, parliament!

Nejoud Al Yagout – — Photo by Djinane Alsuwayeh

Yesterday a Member of Parliament tweeted about three concerts that were to be held this weekend in Kuwait. He insisted that the Ministry of Youth should not revolve around music or dancing, and adds that the ministry is overspending their budget. Eerily, he uses a threat to conclude his message warning that soon those “responsible” will be held into account, in his effort to deter others.

As a local woman who was granted the right to vote in 2005, it amazes me how many times I have witnessed the dissolution of the Parliament due to corruption charges. I joke to my friends abroad who were granted the right way before us that I have voted more than them. I cannot remember any parliament that has run a four-year course. since lawmakers invest so much of their energy trying to bring down “corrupt” ministers and interrogate them. In some cases, it has nothing to do with financial corruption, but what the lawmaker deems as the corruption of the masses. Because, for some odd reason, singing, or music, tends to frighten certain people.

And so, year after year, we watch or read about another parliamentarian destroying the career of a minister, or jailing someone who said something on social media or musicians and speakers banned entry because they are against our tradition.

We have noble women fighting to abolish Article 153 of the constitution which stipulates that honor killings are merely a misdemeanor. NGOs are struggling to bridge the divide between the stateless and locals. We have domestic helpers and those who suffer from abuse at the hands of their husbands or family members who are vying for the attention of those in power. Yet our lawmakers seem more concerned with imposing their belief systems on a society that is rich in cultural heritage or lamenting everyone else besides themselves. It’s always the fault of others, they believe. In the last year alone, we have witnessed xenophobic comments, a member of parliament refusing to sit next to a woman because she was wearing perfume, and episodes of members addressing the speaker to complain about other MPs. What about the issues begging to be resolved in our beloved country, the ones that were mentioned during their campaign tours?

Yes, this is a democracy, but if it is at the expense of respect for our fellow beings or our fundamental right to appreciate art and entertainment in our country, which has many traveling every weekend to neighboring countries, then this is slowly becoming a theatrical performance in its own right, only without music and song.

Everyone loves music. At concerts at JACC and Al Shaheed Park, we witness “conservative” and “liberals” enjoying music. Why do some people in power feel threatened by what unites us, instead of divides us? Music is a universal language, and it is not imperative to attend. It is a choice: a choice that is being robbed from us. There is nothing in our constitution that states that music is against the law.

The Ministry of Youth and Diwan Al-Amiri are beacons of light in our community. The youth is thriving because they finally have an outlet to express themselves. By denying people their right to entertain and be entertained, we are encouraging people in our society to escape via sinister modes of distraction.

Art is not liberalism or progress. It is a part of our roots.

As a voter, I beseech MPs to address issues in our society that are essential to the majority, not the few who claim to speak on behalf of all of us. There is room for diversity regarding interests.

by Nejoud Al-Yagout

This article was published on 08/03/2018