The Independent, on the 25th of November 2016, published an article entitled “Israel is burning: inflammatory social media posts celebrate wildfires raging in Jewish state – The imam of Kuwait’s Grand Mosque tweeted: ‘All the best to the fire’.”
The headline was in reference to a tweet made on November 23 by Imam Mishary Rashid Al-Afasy, a well known Quranic recite and imam at the grand mosque in Kuwait City. However the British newspaper deliberately misconstrued Al-Afasy’s role, referring to him in its response tweet as the imam ‘for the Grand Mosque of the State of Kuwait’.
Al-Afasy’s original tweet garnered widespread criticism in the Arab world, receiving more than 20,00 retweets, thousands of comments and more than 17,500 likes. Many Palestinians and other Arabs rejected his tweet, saying that the land was being destroyed by fire that claiming the lives of thousands of organisms and destroyed their natural habitat. Therefore, pushing politics into this tragedy doesn’t make any sense.
It seems to me that the newspaper was deliberately trying to provoke its readers and tarnish the reputation of Kuwait by pointing to Al-Afasy’s tweet as if he represents the whole of the country.
Let me just say that Al-Afasy is an imam for the Grand Mosque not the imam. Despite the Independent’s lack of fact checking, there are many imams at the grand mosque and their personal views do not necessarily reflect the views of the State of Kuwait or the Kuwaiti public. The Grand Mosque has several imams who lead prayers during the final 10 days of Ramadan, such as Fahd Al-Kandari, Salah Al-Hashem together with Mishary Al-Afasy. The latter is firstly a Quran reciter, a chanter and a businessman.
Any respectable news organization such as the Independent would do well to refrain from casting xenophobic aspersions at a time when the whole world is facing a rise in nationalist, anti-Islam propaganda.
I tried to clarify the situation. I do not represent all the Kuwaiti people no more than Al-Afasy. Just like many developed nations, we hold a diversity of opinion and points of view. My replies to the Independent were ignored.
Kuwait holds a clear stance toward the Palestinian issue, and it’s wise foreign policy elevates it from adopting such an ill-considered reaction.
By Athoob Al-Shuaibi