Kuwaiti MPs furious after poet arrested for ‘insulting Emir’
The arrest of a poet over a tweet he posted on Monday has caused widespread anger in Kuwait, with members of the Kuwaiti parliament fiercely condemning the move.
Jamal Al-Sayer was detained by Kuwaiti authorities for "insulting the personage of the Emir" and "spreading false news" after he sharply criticised the current political situation in Kuwait on Twitter.
"We know and history knows that Kuwait is a nation belonging to a noble people who have chosen leaders for themselves, because people cannot live in chaos and need guardianship. But is this nation still as we know it, led by good people of wisdom, or is it now run by ignorant and corrupt people?" he tweeted last Monday.
ما نعرفة وما يعرفه التاريخ أن الكويت وطناً يملكه شعبٌ كريم ، إختار له قيادة لتقوده حيث لا يصلح الناس فوضى لا رُعاةَ لهم ، هل ما زال هذا الوطنُ كما عهدناه مهدياً بالصالحين من أهل الرأي ، أم تُرِكَ وأصبح سبيلاً .. للجاهللين الفاسدين ينقادُ !!— جمال الساير (@rayatalshaab1) July 5, 2021
After Al-Sayer was arrested, Kuwaiti members of parliament denounced what they called "a policy of silencing expression" and said that Kuwait would not “become a police state”.
The Arabic hashtag #Freedom_for_Jamal_Al-Sayer began trending on Kuwaiti Twitter.
Jamal Al-Sayer's nephew, Muhannad Talal Al-Sayer, a member of the Kuwaiti parliament, accompanied him to the Kuwaiti public prosecutor’s office for his interrogation on Tuesday.
On Wednesday he tweeted that his uncle’s continued detention was a "continuation of the loss of rights and freedoms from the nation… this nation which my uncle loved and wrote for until he became known as the poet of the nation".
Another Kuwaiti parliamentarian, Abdul Aziz al-Suqabi, said: "We will not allow a transition to a police state where the guarantees of the constitution are squandered. Interrogation methods are well known - adopting the ways of gangs and the mafia and depriving people of their freedoms is a crime against democracy and the rule of law… the national poet Jamal Al-Sayer must be freed immediately."
Other Kuwaiti MPs vowed to formally question the Kuwaiti Prime Minister regarding Al-Sayer’s detention.
Unlike most Gulf countries, Kuwait has a lively and active parliament where opposition MPs currently hold a majority of seats. However, parliament's powers are limited and the opposition’s majority is not enough to block government legislation.
This leads to frequent political deadlock and last month guards had to be brought in to the parliament to restore order as heated arguments broke out between opposition and pro-government MPs over the country's budget.