Cen­sors and con­sti­tu­tion

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS - By Saleh Al-Shaeyji

Peo­ple in­ter­ested in arts and lit­er­a­ture are nowa­days roar­ing with com­plaints about very strict con­trol over books dis­played at this year’s book fair. What I read about this in­cludes things that call for bit­ter re­grets about how strict the so-called cen­sor­ship’s con­trol is get­ting over ideas and au­thors’ creations, and what peo­ple are al­lowed to read.

This kind of cus­tody is more like em­bod­ied dic­ta­tor­ship and un­jus­ti­fied tyranny be­cause peo­ple are free to write and read what­ever they wish. The state and all its ap­pa­ra­tuses have no right in controlling peo­ple’s minds, im­ped­ing the de­vel­op­ment of their tal­ents, de­cid­ing what they should read or put bar­ri­ers or lim­its to their cul­ture.

I won­der if this was really what the state is af­ter. Does the state really wish to limit peo­ple’s cul­ture and stop it from ex­pand­ing? The most im­por­tant ques­tion is: Is this really the state’s pol­icy and wish or is it the mere judg­ment of mi­nor or even se­nior pub­lic ser­vants? My worst fear is that the state, or let us say the gov­ern­ment, is com­pletely free about what is go­ing on, which is al­ready dan­ger­ous enough and in­volves vi­o­lat­ing peo­ple’s dig­nity, rights as well as de­testable con­trol of their cog­ni­tive achieve­ment lim­its.

Such ‘book mas­sacre’ is not new to us. It hap­pens ev­ery year with the ad­vent of the book fair, but it seems that this year, things have too far, driv­ing peo­ple to roar with anger and hold sem­i­nars in protest for putting so many cul­tural and cog­ni­tive bar­ri­ers as well as try­ing to de­rail the Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Book Fair, which was one of the first that I know of in the Arab coun­tries. It used to be the most open and di­verse one.

I re­call back in the 1980s, over 30 years back, when friends from neigh­bor­ing coun­tries used to come to the Kuwait Book Fair to pro­cure books they could not have ac­cess to in their own coun­tries. At that time, al­most all pub­lish­ing houses used to take part in the fair be­cause Kuwait was open to all lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture and was not se­lec­tive in choos­ing cer­tain ideas.

This is the direct re­spon­si­bil­ity of the in­for­ma­tion min­is­ter who ought to be up to his vo­ca­tional as well as pa­tri­otic du­ties. He must in­ter­fere to pro­tect Kuwait’s cul­tural rep­u­ta­tion as well as peo­ple’s right of ac­cess to knowl­edge, be­cause the spread of ig­no­rance kills off na­tions. Such an ob­vi­ous fact is not new to the min­is­ter and all of­fi­cial re­lated bod­ies. On the other hand, if things re­main the way they are, we had bet­ter can­cel the fair to pro­tect the rep­u­ta­tion of lib­er­ties in Kuwait, which was guar­an­teed by the con­sti­tu­tion and an­nulled by cen­sors. — Trans­lated by Kuwait Times

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