Inevitably, there is something wrong either in my thinking or in the thinking of those who believe that they have the confidence and knowledge, and above all the right to decide on my behalf and for millions of Kuwaitis, what we should read and hear through official and non-official media, including newspapers, radio and television.
The great misfortune is that the government is not only imposing its control on what we are entitled to read or the programs we watch but has pushed the legislator to issue the audio-visual law to involve itself and the judiciary to punish anyone who look at their vision from another angle in the belief they have chosen the wrong path.
It is not fair to criticize those who control censorship over literary or artistic works in Kuwait. They are ultimately government employees . They apply the law in principle just like a judge upon orders given to them and they just their part of the job, nothing more, nothing less.
These employees have learned from their experiences that it is better to say ‘No’ to any literary work or text than to say ‘Yes’. ‘No’ will often make them go to home with a peaceful mind, confident that none of the ministry officials will disturb them at midnight and blame them for approving a text that has not been accepted by an official at higher level.
Prevention thus becomes the rule, and the easiest decision, and it becomes more complicated when censorship falls in the hands of those who decide to see life from a strict religious prospective especially against writers and thinkers.
Here I remember the words of Ali Al-Wardi, the late Iraqi sociologist. He said, “Whoever did not leave his environment (or the boundaries of his cloak) and did not read books other than those who support his beliefs, cannot be looked as someone who is neutral in judging things.
Therefore, it is difficult for those who have adopted outlooks particularly religious and those related to life have a broad vision of the material presented to them and to have the ability to judge with complete neutrality over literary texts, especially if they do not conform to their religious or social vision. No doubt the issue is complex, and the answer is not easy.
In the same context, a well-known reader and writer wonders: “Yesterday we were at the Association of of Letters and we we were asking ourselves why the government insisted on fighting culture and literature although it claims the opposite?
“Every time we visit a cooperative, we find that its library is completely devoid of books, and if we ask about it, we are told that the Ministry of Information is preventing us, and the Ministry of Commerce is against us because the shop license is licensed to sell stationery , and the investors of these shops have no objection because the sale of books is commercially unprofitable compared to the sale of kebabs, diapers and others and the nourishment of the mind goes to hell.
The reader also told me that almost everything is available for sale at the Friday Mtarket except for two types of psychotropic drugs, ‘drugs’ and ‘books’, the first because it destroys the mind and the other because it illuminates it, but the government always knows more than others.
He also told me that a decision was issued by the government years ago demanding all cooperatives to display the books of the Kuwaiti writers in their shops, but hidden forces have buried the government decision, so the decision remained and the books disappeared.
Does the Minister of Information have the power to revive the decision and give the book its right? We hope so, especially since there are signs of a new spirit in the management of supervision (censorship), and support from the minister to controllers. It is enough that our peoples, by nature, tend not to read, and least purchasers to books, so why do we increase our tragedies by imposing strict controls over artistic arts and records?
We return to the title of the article and say that the Ministry of Information, after waiting for 150 days, yesterday gave me the approval to publish my novel ‘Abdullatif Al-Armani’, which does not exceed 150 pages, and is now available for sale in the libraries of Dar Al-Salasel in The Avenues, at the Airport Library, Martyr Park, Souk Sharq, Marina, Hamra Complex and others.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf