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WHEN countries do not learn from the lessons of the past, they fall into the trap of repeating the same history – the first time as a tragedy, and the second time as a comedy.
In both cases, their people pay the price, and their destinies change. Hence when the current global energy crisis began, we saw many European countries fall into the trap of not learning from the tragedies of their past.
Today, there is a significant segment of the French and the British living under the burden of poverty, something that the fourth Rashid Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib had referred to when he said, “If poverty was presented as a man to me, I would have killed him.”
Imagine the situation when hunger bites some people and they see that their countries have abandoned them and succumbed to the advice of those taking advantage and profiting from juggling with their pain.
This kind of situation is what prompted those hungry people to burn themselves when they were unable to secure a loaf of bread for their children, either in Lebanon, Tunisia or other countries, which fueled resentment in the hearts of its peoples, and pushed them to revolt and commit crimes.
O leadership, we vocalize it as a matter of advice and journalistic honesty in conveying the voice of the people to the leaders of the state. What would the reaction be of the people who do not find food for their children but everyday see a group of affluent people wasting money on trivial matters, and throwing huge amounts of food in garbage containers?
How can the head of a family go about his daily life when debts eat up his salary, and he is banned from travelling and from any services in state institutions because of an arrest warrant that threatens him every hour with imprisonment because the usurer who lent him money obtained a dud cheque and presented them to the court, and obtained a ruling to imprison him?
These things happen in Kuwait alone, which undoubtedly make 120,000 citizens suffer because of loans, which are exacerbated by the high interest rate. It is unfortunate that the concerned authorities take the opinions of envious and miserly usurers and loan sharks, as if we are reliving the pre-Islamic era when they used to given loans to the weak, and when the borrower was unable to pay back, the creditor sells the women and daughters of the borrower to recover his mutated debt due to usury.
On the other hand, the authority also shuts its ears to the opinions of economists who believe that the increase in the rate of defaulters in a country like Kuwait is currently about 12 percent of the citizens. This means an increase in the severity of the economic crisis.
There are many solutions to this predicament, including wiping off loans or rescheduling them over a period of 30 years based on a convenient formula for the debtor, and not paying attention to those who promote the idea that no one pushed the borrower to borrow, and that the latter must bear responsibility because helping him means he will go back to borrowing again!
By Almighty Allah, who would lend many to defaulters, is it not better to pump more money to help this group, as this money will undoubtedly return to the state because it will enter the normal economic cycle?
Unfortunately, there are those who seek in this case to compare Kuwait with countries that suffer from an acute financial and economic crisis due to accumulated corruption, and try to portray this tragedy as normal, as is the case in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon, and does not attempt to compare with Switzerland or Sweden or other developed countries. Those developed countries have been able to eradicate crime by providing all means of social security for their citizens who are no longer in need of usurious borrowing as is the case with us, where the pressure increases on a large segment of the citizens, as if the beneficiaries of this abnormal situation are seeking to turn people against the state and undermine the prestige of the government.
Kuwait has gone through several crises of this kind. If history repeated itself – once as a tragedy, and another as a comedy especially after the Al-Manakh stock market crisis – then there is no doubt that it will repeat itself as a new tragedy, if the state does not kill poverty by tying, if not chopping, the greed and the tragedy dealers.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
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