08 November 2012

Why Boycott?

I’ve had many many kind conversations with people who are worried about what’s going on in the country and have limited access to facts to decide for themselves. So I decided to write this instead of writing a million whatsapp responses.

What the hell is happening?

The Amir has decided to change the election law, which regardless of it’s constitutionality (there are people arguing both sides), is a breach to the basic democratic principle of separation of powers. The Parliament oversees the branch which the Amir appoints, the executive branch, Prime Ministers and through him ministers; how could parliament keep the government in check if the government has the upper hand in how parliament is selected. Imagine this: restaurants decide who the health and safety inspectors are and how they do their job, how safe is that? Without a separation of powers there is no democracy.

How did the elections law change?

Formerly, in the three elections that passed: 2008, 2009, 2012. Voters in Kuwait’s five districts chose four candidates on their ballot. The top ten candidates in each of the five districts became MPs. So, we each got to choose 40% of the winners.

The Amir decided to change the law to five districts and but each voter selects only one candidate. That means each of us gets to decide 10% of the winning members of parliament.

What’s the big deal, one man, one vote is the way it is in the biggest democracies?

Yes and no. This is not a valid comparison. In most places with one “man”, one vote, only one representative wins the election. Meaning, the voter is actually choosing 100% of the winners. Also, Kuwait has no official party system, so while voters in other democracies choose between party A and party B (and party C in one some places), we vote for individual people without a party platform. So when people in other countries vote for one person, they’re voting for a whole list of policies. When I vote here, I vote for policy A from person A, policy B from person B, etc...

So, we vote for good people who will reject the law in Parliament?

First, the law requires 33 members of parliament voting against it. It's naive to think this number will be achieved.

More importantly, voting legitimizes the way this law was pushed forward. The very act of voting means you agree with the executive branch (Amir and Ministers) meddling in the legislative branch (parliament). It means you believe it is okay for the government to dissolve parliament and change the elections law every time they feel threatened by parliament or simply disagree. Voting means you do not believe in the basic principles of democracy.

Boycotting is not an ideal option. But it’s the loudest message and the biggest act of commitment to democracy we have at the moment.

23 May 2012

Lessons from Kuwait: Harvard is for dimwits

Dear Kuwaiti high school graduate,

Congratulations! Graduating highschool is a big deal--not really, but it's the biggest thing that has happened in your life at this point--yay! for! you!

Now, if you plan on living in Kuwait for the rest of your life read on; if not, go toss and fetch your graduation cap like you're your own pet.

Harvard, MIT, Oxford...any Ivy League, Oxbridge institution or any top University that you've been accepted to needs to be crossed off your list RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Sure, you're smart and want to get the best education and be surrounded by driven people, good for you--but you need to think about your future.

Your GPA will be all that matters when you apply anywhere in Kuwait. Well, that and your family connections but we won't get into that today. So take those acceptance letters and frame them if you need the validation but do NOT go there.

Top universities are for dimwits who think education has inherent value. Kuwait is no dimwit, my friend.

For a bright Kuwaiti future, this is what you do: Find a University program in Egypt, Philippines or Kuwait, where you can get an 8.0 out of a four point scale and go there.

Trust me on this one.

An IDIOT who has learned the hard way.

P.S.: no offense to Zagazig University, it might actually be respectable I dunno. 

06 April 2011

I want to stare at this live there for the rest of my life.

30 March 2011

Drafts: Arabs and journalism

This is a post from my draft folder. Some ideas may be underdeveloped.

March 16, 2011

As someone who's interested in journalism and public discourse, it surprised many when I got annoyed at the public for overcelebrating Aljazeera's involvement in Arab revolutions.

Because the idea of journalism isn't fully developed in the Arab world, people have undeservingly celebrated Aljazeera even as it does 75% of it's job.

The fact that no news organization in the Arab world is actually doing it's job completely makes Aljazeera the one-eyed king of the blind.

The idea of free journalism is one of the tenants of free society. Journalists brings facts to the table, not commentary, not judgements (atleast not explicitly).

What Aljazeera did in Egypt, although it was a valuable role, was not the role of free news media. It was propaganda plain and simple. Propaganda most of us liked but propaganda nonetheless.

Then again the problem is probably mine. I need to manage my expectations. It's unreasonable to expect credible journalism from an institution funded by an autocratic government.

I think Aljazeera's credibility as a news organization will be tested over and over again throughout this wave of Arab turmoil.

06 March 2011

Take back Jihad.

I was lucky enough to take part in Erbakan's funeral procession last week. Standing in the street surrounding Alfatih mosque with the millions who were chanting "Mujahid Erbakan!" I entertained one question all day:

What happened to us that the word Jihad scares the daylight out of us?

Why have we allowed those fringe elements to not only hijack our religion but make our values of fighting for what we believe is right and living for a worthwhile cause obsolete?

I think it's time we take back Jihad. It's time we called those who live and die for worthwhile causes a mujahid.

20 January 2011

I'd secretly vowed to stop writing about politics all the time on here. But this caught my eye:

Alrai had this both in its print and online newspapers.

I remember late 2009 when ir7al's sign was first seen online. People were irate. How dare they put someone's face with a red slash through it! He's a shaikh! It's disrespectful!

Now, a newspaper is using it. Oh how the world changes.

Very proud of ir7al for doing what they did.