When a rebellion or insurrection occurs, governments usually send the most brutal security force to quash it. And when culture poses a threat to society, there is nothing better than sending someone who has no connection to culture to destroy it. Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda or Information, used to say ‘When I hear an intellectual, I put my finger on the trigger of my gun’.
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There was a deputy who became famous both locally and regionally and demanded that the government – in his capacity as the deputy in the National Assembly – should prevent the entry of ‘Jalal al-Din al-Roumi’ from giving a lecture in Kuwait, because this deputy was hostile to Sufism.
His opposition was big news in the news bulletins of that day in more than one Arab and foreign channel, because ‘Jalal al-Din al-Roumi’ had already passed away in 1273.
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The MP’s long experience in the field of culture caught the attention of the government, so in 2016 it appointed him Minister of Awqaf and the Municipality, and transferred subsequently to become the first official in charge of art, culture and literature, in addition to being Minister of Information, and was given the portfolio of the Ministry of Youth in addition to his responsibility for the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR), so he collected the glory of culture, fodder and youth affairs under one armpit.
As expected, culture during his reign witnessed a frightening decline, and art almost died at his hand, and the audience of the government radio and television channels steadily declined, and well-known innovations for which Kuwait had always been famous started choking, such as the Al-Arabi magazine, the television band and the publications of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters which we have not heard of good news about it.
All the buildings affiliated to the Ministry of Information are now ‘vacant’; there have been no addition and all that the employees of the ministry do is receive salaries.
There is no room to talk about the achievements of the former minister, ‘Mohammad Al-Jabri’, and the rest of his responsibilities in the area of agriculture and youth affairs which everyone knows about, but we remember his approval to grant a company a license to open a shop to replace and change car tyres, change engine oil in a residential area, by cutting off part of a garden which was already small.
Despite the absurdity of the decision and its harm to the environment, no one from our esteemed government protested the decision, not even the residents of the area.
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We go back to the introduction of the article and say that we do not blame the minister, who was chosen to silence the nation’s cultural breath, and the endowment portfolio is more than enough for him but we blame those who imposed him on us for four years, knowing the modesty of his abilities, or rather the supposed modesty.
We hope the government learned from the lesson, or so it is assumed.
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The late Egyptian thinker Al-Akkad was asked, ‘Are arts essential to life?’ He replied: ‘A blind man can live 70 years without sight, but he will perish without a loaf of bread after 7 or 70 days’. However, no one said that the loaf was more important than sight.
The value of a thing is not related to how much we need it but rather how our condition changes after getting it. A loaf is very necessary for billions of people but acquiring beauty not only makes us more worthy, but also distinct human beings within a distinctive nation, who feel and express their feelings better. This is what has distinguished France throughout history. It is not by bread alone that man lives.
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Thanks to some, we lost our direction and lost what distinguished us for decades, as a nation and as a citizen.
By Ahmad alsarraf