‘Kuwait Times’: Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

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Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

By Ahmad Saeid, Staff Writer

Reprinted from ‘Kuwait Times’ (4th January, 2010)

KUWAIT : A number of Kuwaiti bloggers said that government’s attempt to impose censorship on blogs is unacceptable and unrealistic. The comments were made amidst expectations of the government’s plan to amend the ‘audio-visual Law’ after a TV show on the Al-Soor channel caused a wave of outrage amongst Kuwaiti tribes. “It was only a matter of time before these restrictions were imposed on bloggers,” said Amer Hilal Al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti blogger. He added that the government has been waiting for the right excuse to strengthen its grip on the blogging community.

The minister of information is using the instability caused by the programs aired on those two TV channels, and the whole issue of national unity, as means to impose restrictions on bloggers,” said Al-Mutairi.

While he agreed that there is a group of MPs who support freedom of expression Al-Mutairi noted that some Parliamentarians have double standards about this issue. “I think that, unfortunately, a large group of MPs support the media when it speaks favorably of them and discard the media when it criticizes them,” he said.

Muhammad Al-Yousifi, another Kuwaiti blogger, said that the government has been wanting to place restrictions on bloggers for some time now. “They have been wanting to do this since the scandal of changing the electoral districts in 2006,” he said. “They only got the chance to do it now with this Parliament which is mostly ‘governmental.’ Especially since a number of bloggers are now attacking MPs.

Al-Yousifi said that the law is “more laughable than it is scary” both because of the motive to monitor blogs, and the process of monitoring blogs itself. “How do they want to conduct this censorship? They can’t do it, they physically can’t do this,” he said.

Abdul Aziz Al-Ateeqi, Kuwaiti blogger and a co-founder of the biggest blogging aggregation website in the Middle East, ‘KuwaitBlogs.com,’ said Online Casino that it will be very difficult for the government to censor or block blogs because most of the servers that contain these blogs are outside Kuwait . They don’t fall under the jurisdiction of Kuwaiti law. “Even if they are willing to block them, people can still access them via proxies. Governments cannot stop that and cannot identify those who access them,” he said.

Al-Ateeqi also pointed out that there is a huge misunderstanding about what blogs are among Kuwaiti people in general. “Blogs are a micro prototype of Kuwaiti society. They are like diwaniyas. People speak what they think in them and if someone is [upset] by a Member of Parliament he will write his feelings in his blog. These views and feelings are varying and they are about different subjects. Political blogs are less than 15 percent of the whole blogosphere of Kuwait .

The issue of freedom of expression has been dwelled on for the past few years in Kuwait . The Amir of Kuwait, HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has repeatedly urged local media to adopt more responsible measures of tackling delicate subjects such as national unity.

Minister of Information, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah, is still under fire from the National Assembly (NA) after a number of MPs demanded the closure of the Al-Soor channel. They accused the Minister of allowing the channel to broadcast without proper permission. A number of MPs announced they will file an interpellation motion against the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah if he does not fire the Minister.

Last October however, some of those same MPs held a number of demonstrations where they claimed the government was not doing enough to protect the freedom of expression. The demonstrations occurred after the publisher of an online newspaper, Zaed Al-Zaed, was attacked by an anonymous man. Kuwait occupies the 60th position on the Press Freedom Index issued by media freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. It is also the highest ranking Arab country on that index.

4 thoughts on “‘Kuwait Times’: Govt Attempts To Censor Blogs ‘Unacceptable’

  1. The new print and publications laws are crazy and they are a insult to democracy and the constitution. But there has been a strong outcry about this in the media and in the majlis so it will not be imposed that easily without causing trouble, which i dont think the government is ready and willing to fight for as they can barely deal with what they have without trying to turn the country into a police state
    As for the bloggers you cannot control them, shut one page and they will open another under another name and outside kuwait, its a very stupid idea these new plans

  2. People are missing the point.
    The point is to ACTUALLY to establish a set of “code of conduct” (COC) on public online or aired media.
    Once that is established, its the local law, which follows the same principles as other laws which are defined, refined, flexed, broken and discarded.
    However, the choice of the word “censor” has taken its emotional toll in this case.
    Guess people need to be more responsible and thoughtful while seeing things unbiased and rationally.
    ~ Soul
    P.S: Just a note, those who think they cannot be tracked are under-estimating. Be aware and be responsible.

  3. There are always attempts to curb freedom of the press in Kuwait. And any gap any weakness by democratic forces and the constitution will be exploited.
    2 year sentences and 200 thousand Kd for publishing articles that some bureacracts in the ministry of information can deem ‘offensive’ on a whim…That is way too much power given to the government and contrary to our constitution and freedom of speech.
    As for the internet you cant impose any code of conduct because everyone has different views, opinions, styles, political leanings etc etc etc – impossible mes amies.

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