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Promises in vain
For technical reasons I have published my new story in Beirut “Abdullatif Al-Armani (Armenian)” which includes approximately 150 pages. I have submitted copies of the story to the Kuwait Books Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information for approval so that I can sell the books in Kuwait.
The story is in the hands of the censorship for two months during which I have received several promises that approval will be granted after the books has been read and cleared. After waiting for 70 days I got fed up, took it as refusal and therefore I write this article.
The story is simple and free of terrible taboos: sex, religion, and politics. It is about an Armenian migrant who left his village in Turkey and went to Aleppo and chose it as his homeland, where he married and gave birth to a son.
The boy grew up and fell in love with a Muslim girl and married her. Because of his difficult social and family status, he decided to leave his hometown with his small family to Baghdad. The wife chose to return to her homeland to join her family while the husband decided to remain in Baghdad, but after some time he changed his mind and decided to seek work in Kuwait and made considerable wealth. Here the story ends. This is a true story and I was part of it.
I am not sorry for preventing me from publishing my story. Many books and stories have gained more popularity after they were banned. My story is also available in Beirut in the libraries of Antoine, Bissan, Book House and the Nile and Euphrates sites in Lebanon, phone 39037895, who usually deliver it to any address in Lebanon, free of charge.
Preventing the publication of such a simple story is shameful in our time which does not go in line with the vision of the leadership – the vision of Kuwait 2035, openness to the world, bringing investments in hundreds of billions of dollars and give Kuwait a place among the civilized world. If we are afraid of a story that does not exceed 150 pages and has collected dust in the drawers of our censorship for seventy days, how can we meet the challenges of modernization and openness in future?
The continued control of the superficial and naïve mentality of the censor on our culture about what we may read or see is truly shameful, especially after I knew that the prohibition is primarily related to the design of the story’s cover which shows the image of a cross on an old wooden door.
This is an intellectual poor police surveillance viewpoint which is the one that stood in the way of the story’s release. Yes, a picture of a cross on a wooden door on the cover of a book prohibited its sale in Kuwait.
I am not surprised by the matter, the mentality that prevented the book from being sold in Kuwait because the cover bears the image of a cross is the same mind that has already prevented world literary works to be read by the public!
It is their right, which we do not dispute to prevent the publication of any books, novels and magazines, but please do not talk much about openness to the world and attracting investments. Those who show cowardice in front of a simple story, I mean my story, do not deserve to be entrusted with even to build a livestock pen.
* Note: The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced he has signed an agreement with the UAE to operate manned space flight in the near future.
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf