Kuwait Saves Face: Sorry, Kazakhstan

Published March 26th, 2012 - 07:24 GMT
Kuwaiti officials have issued an apology for the Kazakh national anthem snafu.
Kuwaiti officials have issued an apology for the Kazakh national anthem snafu.

Kuwait, the proud outlier nation to the Arabian peninsula, apologizes to save face. Kuwait has issued a public apology to Kazakhstan on its disgraceful anthem gaffe that gave credence to the 'Borat' Kazakh long-running entertainment slander.

The organizing committee of the International Shooting Grand Prix issued a statement yesterday regarding the accidental use of Borat’s parody national anthem in place of Kazakhstan’s real national anthem at a medal ceremony in Kuwait on Thursday. The committee accepted responsibility and offered further apologies for the incident. “The committee gave an official apology to the Kazakh delegation to the tournament, and the national anthem was replayed correctly. The Organizing Committee of the International Grand Prix expresses its utter regret for this unintentional mistake and reaffirms its great respect to its brothers and friends from the Republic of Kazakhstan, and affirms the deep sports relations between the Kazakh and Kuwait shooting federations.”

The blunder received considerable international press coverage, even reaching the BBC’s number one spot of the most popular news stories and making the rounds among major news agencies and leading newspapers alike. Borat, the short name for ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’, deeply offended many Kazakhs upon its release for providing an inaccurate and negative view of their country and was subsequently banned. Many were upset over the sporting incident, which saw Maria Dmitrienko stand in shock following her gold medal performance as Borat’s spoof began playing.

“It is an embarrassing mistake of course. I know that anyone can make a mistake but it is not represented that way in the press, of course,” said Salwa, a Kuwaiti teacher. “I understand that mistakes can be made, but I really wish it hadn’t received quite so much attention,” she added. Mohammad, a student at Kuwait University, said that the incident was taken far too seriously, “It was clearly a mistake. Had they done it on purpose with the intention of being disrespectful, it would be a different issue, but it clearly wasn’t and they apologized for the mistake. It was more funny than anything else.”

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov told the ITAR-Tass news agency the incident “is, of course, a scandal and demands a thorough investigation, which we intend to conduct”. ITAR-Tass quoted shooting team member Oksana Stavitskaya as saying that Asian Shooting Federation President Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah had apologized to the team. “Sheikh Salman personally apologized to us.

He recognized that the use of the music from the scandalous film in place of the anthem of Kazakhstan was completely a mistake of the organizers. He explained that the awards ceremony was conducted by a firm under contract,” Stavitskaya said. The Kazakh news agency Tengri quoted team Coach Anvar Yunusmetov as saying tournament organizers had downloaded various countries’ national anthems from the Internet, and had also got the Serbian national anthem wrong.

By Lisa Conrad

Do you think the proud nation of Kuwait should apologize? Or should it still fall to Sacha Baren Cohen, Borat's alter ego, to try to rectify some of the damage made to the Kazakhstani PR?

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