Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Government limits freedom of expression

In the United States, news that people want buried comes out on Saturday night, when people are busy with other things and not paying a lot of attention. Does that happen in Kuwait?

I watched for anyone blogging on this yesterday, but saw nothing. I showed the newspaper to my Kuwaiti friends, who were shocked, and hadn’t heard anything about this. Some of it, I get. I am flummoxed by the forbidding of any mention of veterinary medicine!

From yesterday’s Kuwait Times.

KUWAIT: All newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and printing presses in Kuwait were yesterday issued a list by the government of the types of articles, advertisements and banners that can no longer be printed or published without official approval. Following is the list of the banned topics and the ministry concerned:

Interior Ministry:
1. Publication or display of slogans that glorify some countries against others.
2. Displaying pictures that glorify some political personalities or religious figures of countries where political or religious conflicts exist.
3. Publications or displaying slogans that glorify or support some political or religious parties outside Kuwait.
4. Publication of personal interviews with citizens who support or oppose a certain policy which may place the state at war with other countries.
5. Publication or displaying slogans that glorify or support some religious or political parties in Kuwait.
6. Announcement of seminars that may probe tribal or sectarian conflicts.
7. Sale of books on sorcery and magic.
8. Spiritual healing (without a licence).
9. Sorcery and ability to heal.
10. Massage without a licence (because those activities are subject to Law No. 15/1960 dealing with commercial companies).
11. Sale and trade of weapons by commercial companies, individual establishments and individuals (swords, sabers, daggers, spears, knives, arrows and arrowheads, pointy rods, spiked clubs, knives, brass knuckles, electric sticks), because licenses from the Interior Ministry to import these.
12. Sale of airguns without a licence from the Interior Ministry.
13. Fireworks and explosives.
14. Sale of surveillance cameras and listening devices (bugs) of all types without obtaining a licence from the concerned authority.

Education Ministry:
1. Publication of ads for private tuitions.
2. Publication of supplementary school notes.
3. Ads of private institutes and universities that are not accredited by the Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Health:
1. Conventional and veterinary medicine.
2. Botanic, animal or chemical formulae.
3. Foods that have health-enhancing effect, claimed to be prepared for treatment.
4. Preparations that claim to provide energy or reduce or increase weight.
5. Change of structures of body parts. (It is a must that a license be obtained from the licenses committee on advertisements related to health and nutrition).

Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor:
1. Donation and blood money ads.
2. Charity homes’ advertisements.
3. Ads for lectures, cultural and religious gatherings (unless a permission is obtained from the ministry).

The order was signed by Fahd Sayyah Al-Ajmi, Director of Local Press Affairs at the Ministry of Information.

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May 11, 2007 - Posted by | Blogging, Books, Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Counter-terrorism, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, News, Political Issues

10 Comments »

  1. i haven’t read it but it has been anticipated lately with the new publications rules.
    Many of those limitations are well placed, some might be questioned but it falls into “The end justifies the means”.

    MOE rules are well placed.

    MOH rules are meant for the general health and keeping in mind that MANY companies carry variety of products with no scientific proofs, studies or lab test backing them up and they are worthless and just another way to rip people’s money.

    MOSL rules, clause 1 can be argued both way and I can’t really make up my decision as it falls into many categories “religiously & ethically”. Clause 2 is just an implication of 9-11.

    MOI rules are fine expect for clause 3 & 4 which might agitate some people and won’t swallow it easily.

    Thanks for the enlightening post.

    Comment by Touche' | May 11, 2007 | Reply

  2. there are alot of ‘cowboy’ traders out there dealing in everything from vet services to personal health. theres no FDA here like in alot of other countries, or if there is no ones heard of them or takes them seriuosly. case in point, dentists were wiring peoples mouths shut as a dietary strategy! ya cant get fat if you only consume liquids :P

    so yeah alot fo the trade related stuff iskind of welcomed.

    but the MOI stuff, the slogans and tribal rules,… makes me wonder if theyre trying to pre-empt the fallout of a possible strike on iran. the irani kuwaiti shiite population here is quite big so this looks like theyre trying to nip it in the bud.( no2 in particular is specifically aimed at the shiite’s portraits of their religious figures…..something sunni’s tend not to do)

    hmmm,… siren test then ministry declarations of enough supplies then this,…. maybe i’m just being paranoid but perhaps someone knows something we dont.

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 11, 2007 | Reply

  3. Touche – Your analysis was both thoughtful and thought provoking, and thank you for your clarifications. And welcome to HT&E. I appreciate your input.

    Skunk, it seems to me to be a conglomeration, doesn’t it? Not elegant, not particularly seamless, it has a cobbled feel.

    But here is what bothers me. This is all about publication. It is sufficiently vague to be applied even to BLOGGERS. And if you look closely, it could mean that you are not to print articles like 25 Reasons Why You Should Drink Green Tea or The Many Uses of Vinegar or anything that could be interpreted as a recommendation, even exercise. . . it is so vague as to be a tool encouraging people to self-censor.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 11, 2007 | Reply

  4. lol youre right, it does sound like a bunch of guys sat around in a diwaniya on thursday night and wrote all that on a napkin.

    regarding it being applied to bloggers, yes self censorship is definately their aim here. ‘freedom of the press’ here is kind of odd in that youre free to print what you want, but if someone dont like it you’ll suffer the consequences,…which ranges from being sued to being arrested.

    and yes it is so vague, but its vague and specific enough to be applied to anything that might threaten “national security” or “family values” or just about anything else that itself is rather vague :P

    your posts should be ok in that youre not actually selling those items yourself. thats kind of what the vagueness is intended for.

    plus its not exaclty like the title was “The Anarchist’s Many Uses of Vinegar in Overthrowing the Kuwaiti Monarchy” :P

    it is, however, only a matter of time before a blogger who they cant block gets arrested like in egypt. or like in malaysia where a journalist was sued by his own paper for blogging “lies” about it (it was a government linked paper).

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. I would be less troubled by these bans if they applied solely to advertisements. but – articles?

    truly frightening – both the bans and the fears that must have sparked them.

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | May 12, 2007 | Reply

  6. It’s sad really. Kuwait was just scored as the most “open” media in the ME. With these changes I can see them dropping WAY down the list. And, as far as events, with how slow the ministries are to process information most will be over before the announcements are approved!

    Comment by U.E. | May 12, 2007 | Reply

  7. Oh Skunk, I’m in trouble now. Anyone who googles overthrow Kuwait monarchy will go to my blog because that’s what your comment says. I could edit, but hey – I’m living on the edge here.

    Little Diamond – the ban is on “publication” and THAT is scary, because it could be anything.

    U.E. Oops. I thought it was bad enough with the Green Tea and Vinegar articles, but I also publicized two events. Oh man, I’m in trouble now.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 12, 2007 | Reply

  8. lol oops!

    but not to worry i did a quick google of the phrase and i guess google doesnt scan blog comments :P

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 12, 2007 | Reply

  9. Because I’m a total coward when it comes to being a dissident of any kind, I googled it too, and you are right! I guess if I were really concerned I would edit you. But wouldn’t that be a totally hypocritical thing to do . . . in a blog entry about freedom of expression????*laughing laughing laughing*

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 13, 2007 | Reply

  10. hahaha good point!

    Comment by sknkwrkz | May 13, 2007 | Reply


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