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Riots, public property destruction unwarranted Tribalism, belligerent politics fuel protest rallies in nation

According to the Arab Times Kuwaiti police fired teargas and stun grenades to disperse an opposition rally demanding the release of prominent dissident Mussallam Al-Barrak, activists said on Thursday.

The public prosecutor on Wednesday ordered Barrak, a former MP, to be held for 10 days after he was questioned for allegedly insulting the judiciary (See Arab Times July 3, 2014). Nothing can justify the damage to public properties caused by some rioters. In fact, what seems to fan the recent riots in some areas in Kuwait seem to be tribalism and an ongoing vindictive belligerent political discourse. Genuine demands for the so-called political reform do not justify nor legitimize burning tires in the streets or blocking traffic in major highways.

One indicator that the recent rioting is caused by non-genuine demands for reform is that it happened in two residential areas typically associated with tribal politics and not democratic ideals and practices. Moreover, many of the rioters were youngsters and teenagers with almost no democratic or political awareness.

Exploiting teenagers to fan belligerent politics goes against all democratic ideals. In addition, advocating tribal culture or political association in place of national loyalties goes against real democracy.

Part of the recent rioting seems to be provoked by tribalism; a unique Middle-Eastern phenomenon which define a large portion of pre-election campaigns in Kuwait. For instance, the thousands of tweets linked to inciting the recent street rioting, damaging public properties were characterized by agitating tribal divisive rhetoric. Kuwait is historically known to have a civil, originally urban culture; yet our recent democratic politics has been plagued by some divisive tribal and sectarian discourses.

Instead of calling for the strengthening of civil society in Kuwait; some of the slogans used by rioters seem to call for the reestablishment of tribal loyalties. Kuwaits society and its special social fabric do not sustain conflict- ridden tribal or sectarian politics. I would even argue that hundreds if not thousands of those who throw rocks at the security forces; who were only doing their job in protecting the general public, do not actually aspire to strengthening democratic ideals.

We in Kuwait have an elected parliament which represents the will of the people of Kuwait. Those who wish to contribute to strengthening our democratic ideals can do so through entering politics by voting in elections. However, the so-called opposition has declined to participate in the recent elections because its leaders claim that the government has changed the rules of the game.

In other words, part of the discourse which seems to incite violent and destructive rioting stems from belligerent politics; it is either my way or the highway! Those who wish to change the status quo of our political public arena can do so within the accepted and constitutional procedures adopted in Kuwait.

Follow me on Twitter @khaledaljenfawi

By: Khaled Aljenfawi

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