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Kuwait arrest Aussie for insulting Emir 23, April 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, The Emirates.
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Until recent developments in Iraq, Kuwait was usually considered to have had the freeest press as well as the most democratically advanced political system in the Gulf. Recently, however, there have been strains on the Kuwaiti political system, resulting in the Emir acrimoniously dissolving the Parliament and calling for new elections for the third time in three years. Some reports stated that at the heart of the matter was the ruling families inability to countenance the notion that they might be called to account for their actions. Their belief that they are utterly and unequivocally above cross-examination or explanation jars with fundamental democratic principles.

Indeed, another example of the exalted place of the ruling family can be found in the Kuwait Times. An Australian woman and a former Kuwait citizen has been arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for insulting the Emir. Again, this highlights just how precious the ruling family view themselves. These types of laws are to be found throughout the Gulf. The UAE is even currently trying to bring in a law to make it punishable if one writes negative comments about the economy.

It is easy to sit in the West and mock these kinds of crass examples of an archaic system that it doomed to eventual failure. What must not be forgotten, however, is that in their current political make-up many of the Gulf states are but a few hundred years old and some far less that that. Thus they are in the early stages of political evolution. They are simply going through the growing pains of working their way through and out of notions such as the divine right of kings that European states went through centuries ago.

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