Is Kuwait No Longer the Most Democratic GCC Country? Arrest of Poet Sparks Anger

Published July 7th, 2021 - 06:35 GMT
Jamal Al-Sayer
Kuwaiti poet Jamal Al-Sayer had criticised corruption in his country in a tweet. (Twitter)

Even though Kuwait has for long been recognized as the country with the best record of press and speech freedom amongst GCC states, the recent arrest of well-known poet Jamal Al-Sayer has stirred online discussions over whether Kuwaiti freedoms are deteriorating or not.

According to his lawyer, Jamal Al-Sayer was arrested from his house on the 5th of July following tweets he posted, in which he generally criticized the current political environment in the country, and denounced corruption in Kuwait.

Al-Sayer is now facing charges connected to insulting the Emir's personality, even though his tweets had mentioned "leaders" in general without naming the head of the state.

Online, people expressed their worry that Kuwait's freedoms are in danger as increasing scrutiny is being practiced against the country's outspoken voices. Using the hashtag #الحرية_لجمال_الساير (Freedom for Jamal Al-Sayer), social media users called for his release.

Translation: "On June 5, the Kuwaiti authorities arrested the poet Jamal Al-Saye under the pretext of compromising the security of the state, in response to his comments over what he described as corruption that the state suffers from. We call on the authorities to release him, and to respect the right to freedom of opinion and expression within the limits guaranteed by law, whether at the local or international level."

Moreover, international human rights organizations have condemned the arrest of Al-Sayer, called for his immediate release, and expressed hopes that Kuwaiti authorities show better tolerance to local critics of its policies.

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