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Kuwait Media Legislation Harms Standing in Transparency?

When I lived in Kuwait, many reporters self-censored, but there was still a lively – and, in relative terms, relative to the rest of the Gulf, free press. The Kuwait Legislature is going loony tunes with this proposed legislation. This, from the Kuwait Times:

Media draft law under fire for stiff penalties

KUWAIT: Former opposition MPs, writers, journalists and activists have strongly lashed out at a new media draft law that stipulates unprecedented hefty penalties against violators. The new draft law was approved earlier this week by the Cabinet but must pass the National Assembly to be effective. The 99-article draft law stipulates a 10 year sentence for insulting the Almighty, prophets, companions, relatives and wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It also stipulates a fine of between KD 50,000 and KD 300,000 for those convicted of insulting the Amir.

The draft law gives the Information Ministry the right to shut down with an administrative decision any publication for up to three years even without a court ruling, a key article in the current law. Former liberal opposition MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari described the draft legislation as a “stigma” for the government which is “suffering from psychological disorders”. Former MP Obaid Al-Wasmi described it as the “capital punishment law” while former MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said it belongs to the old ages and will send too many people to jail.

Meanwhile, the criminal court yesterday issued a two-year jail term against opposition tweeter Hijab Al-Hajeri for writing tweets deemed offensive to HH the Amir in yet another verdict targeting activists. But the court asked the convict to pay a bail of KD 100 to suspend the implementation of the imprisonment until the appeals court issues its verdict on the case. Like several opposition tweeters, Hajeri was charged of insulting the Amir and undermining his status. Several tweeters and former opposition MPs have been handed several years in prison over the same charge and some of them have been sent to jail.

In another case, the criminal court postponed the case of Al-Youm Television to May 8. Two announcers for the pro-opposition station, its chairman and a director are facing charges of violating the law by reading a statement issued by the opposition several weeks ago. Another court also set May 1 as the date to issue its verdict on opposition tweeter Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi on charges of insulting the Amir.

In a related development, the public prosecution released well-known Islamist thinker and university professor Abdullah Al-Nafisi on a KD 5,000 bail after interrogating him on accusations of threatening national unity. Nafisi had reportedly undermined Shiites at a diwaniya meeting about two weeks ago which was held to highlight the dangers Iran was posing against the Gulf states including Kuwait. During the speech, Nafisi was cited as saying that some of the 17 Shiite MPs in the Assembly have links with Iran and claimed that one of them had taken part in a suicide car bombing on the life of the late former Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in May 1985. He also claimed that another MP was involved in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti passenger plane in 1988 that was blamed on Shiite militias.

Meanwhile, Islamist MP Hamed Al-Dossari called yesterday on the ministries of interior and foreign affairs to follow the footsteps of Bahrain and treat the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. He also charged that Iran has ambitions in the Gulf and is inciting discord in Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Arab states.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

April 10, 2013 - Posted by | Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cultural, Education, ExPat Life, Faith, Kuwait, Law and Order, Living Conditions, News

1 Comment »

  1. […] I read this, I think of the recent legislation proposed in Kuwait against insulting God or his prophets. Let men insult. Let them build their gods, their statures, let them pursue their little gods of […]

    Pingback by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo Survive the Test of Fire « Here There and Everywhere | April 13, 2013 | Reply

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