The Macron Slap: A Classic But Not a First!

Published June 15th, 2021 - 09:04 GMT
Macron on tour
A bystander slapped Emmanuel Macron across the face during a trip to southeast France on June 8 on the second stop of a nation-wide tour.(AFP)
The assault on the president was not considered as an attack on national security, or as undermining of the state system.

THERE is a difference between a word that is deemed to undermine national and state security and leads to imprisonment, and a word that is subject to the law in the countries of institutions, such that the one who uses such a word is not subjected to imprisonment for tens of years. This is how our current situation is ... A word can agitate rage, tribalism, sectarianism and regionalism.

We say this in light of the ruling imposed on a French citizen who slapped President Emmanuel Macron a few days ago, and was tried for assaulting a public servant. The man in question was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He will be imprisoned for four months, and the rest of the sentence has been suspended on condition of maintaining good conduct.

The assault on the president was not considered as an attack on national security, or as undermining of the state system.

In this context, I recall a funny incident that occurred in Britain in 1943 in the midst of World War II while London was being shelled by the Nazis. One day during that time, the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had the habit of walking to his government headquarters, encountered one of the citizens. The latter asked him in a loud voice, “Are you a fool or an idiot?”, and this led the Prime Minister’s guards to arrest him and put him in prison.

The next day, the House of Commons summoned Churchill for questioning. One of the angry MPs asked him, “Is it permissible for the police to arrest a citizen and put him in prison just because he insulted you?” Churchill immediately replied, “The police did not arrest him because he insulted me. It was because he disclosed a state secret.” The House then burst into laughter at the shrewd answer, and the man was later released.

If this had happened in one of the Arab countries, it would have been considered as an aggression against the state, and the citizen would have been in prison cells for decades, that is, if he survives the torture that he will undergo during interrogation. Given that the standards in underdeveloped countries are the same, what happens in Iran is similar to what would happen in the Arab world in such instances.

A few years ago, one of the courts in Iran sentenced a girl to 22 years in prison after she was convicted for blocking the convoy of the then Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and pointing her finger at him to express her anger at the state of her country. It seems that Kuwait is no different from Iran in this regard.

In recent years, prison sentences issued against bloggers have increased, some of which extend up to tens of years. There are some bloggers languishing in prison, while some others decided to exile themselves.

For example, there is a blogger who was sentenced to 80 years in prison because he criticized Hamad bin Jassim, who admitted that he was one of the instigators of the so-called “A Nation’s Dignity March” during the period between 2011 and 2013.

Today, this fact troubles many Kuwaitis, as they are afraid of speaking a word of truth in the face of an unjust official even though they were brought up to speak the truth without fear. For instance, what would happen if MP Obaid Al-Wasmi slapped Marzouq Al-Ghanim or MP Abdulkareem Al-Kandari dragged the Prime Minister’s chair to the interrogation dais? Will a civil war erupt because a citizen assaulted a public servant?

Or will this matter take a judicial path, except for fuss that comes with such issues? What we are currently witnessing is similar to the mentality of the “Basus War”, which was a 40-year conflict between two cousin tribes in Arabia sparked by the killing of a camel, and due to the stubbornness of Al-Zeir Salem.

When asked about what it would take to stop the war, Al-Zeir Salem said, “The war will stop when you bring Kuleib back to life.”

Therefore, we are today living in a legal apostasy tailored by the enemies of joy according to their ideas that do not conform with a society that is built on openness, the very trait that once made it a pioneer of civilization in the region.

Ahmed Aljarallah is the Chief Editor of Arab Times 


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